Molly Rampton, Leeds Socialist Students
Hundreds of University of Leeds lecturers, staff and students are rallying against pension cuts, unstable/zero-hour contracts, overwork and wage inequality. UCU members at 60 universities are striking for eight days over the coming fortnight after the university managements failed to respond to demands for fair treatment of all staff. Leeds Socialist Students Society are enthusiastic supporters of the movement, along with other student groups and individuals.
The UCU strike is a crucial last resort in the fight for fair working conditions at many universities across the country. Many lecturers and other staff live without the security of knowing that they will be employed until the next academic year or semester, while even those with long-term contracts have seen their pensions slashed. Many staff are paid hourly, which does not include time spent planning for and evaluating work outside of class hours. Wage gaps remain static, with people of colour and most women earning less than their white male counterparts.
The strike has been criticised for disrupting student’s education – a claim deliberately blind to the fact that this education cannot take place without quality teaching; which in turn cannot take place without quality of life for those teachers. Staff at Leeds must feel valued and secure within the institution in order to be able to impart their knowledge and expertise effectively.
The mistreatment of Leeds University employees is directly at odds with the enormous fees currently paid by students. The academic body deserves investment into educational, rather than market demands and we will stand for nothing less.