So why am I going on strike today?
Inflation is currently running at 11% and universities currently have no intention of offering any kind of pay rise. You don’t have to be an economist to understand that this means that we are all getting a lot worse off, very quickly. If we don’t take some kind of action to deal with this we are all going to see our standard of living dropping, dropping, dropping.
We are living through a two decade period of wage stagnation, people are choosing to leave the labour market early, being forced out by ill health or because they need to look after their families. Putting it simply, work increasingly doesn’t pay. We are working harder, yet getting less, while more and more profit is extracted from us to help the rich to get richer.
The UK is the fifth richest country in the world. But, you could be forgiven for not realising that. The country feels hard up. We watch TV shows advising us to turn the heating down and only boil water once a day. Jeremy Hunt warns us about a black hole in the nations finances (even though most economists can’t find it). We are sold a story day in and day out that we can’t have nice things, that we don’t deserve a pay rise and yet somehow, that we are all in it together, even though it is obvious that this is not true.
As someone who spends most of my working time thinking about how we can support people to find their way to decent work and build the best life that they can have, I can’t help thinking that this isn’t good enough. Wages need to rise and income inequality needs to fall. The rich need to accept a smaller part of the pie so that we can all have access to the good life and so that we can provide the education, healthcare and welfare state that people need.
It is time to say that enough is enough. We have two more years of this government and they are clearly not going to change things without a lot of pressure. So it is time for some of that pressure to be applied.
Jo Grady of the UCU explains the need for us to fight brilliantly well. Watch this video…
So, I’m on strike because of pay, because of pensions and because of casualisation. I’m on strike because I want UK higher education to be better and to be somewhere that nurtures ideas, develops students and provides a platform for great and exciting research. I’m on strike because I’m fed up with feeling that the UK could do so much better, that we could live up to our potential and become a country in which every person has an opportunity to build a life and a career that would make them happy and allow them to contribute.
But, perhaps most of all I’m going on strike because my friends, colleagues and people I have never met are going on strike as well. Not just lecturers, but researchers, librarians, computer staff and many more of the people who make up higher education. And not just higher education workers, but also postal workers, teachers, nurses, railway staff and many more. We are all standing up and fighting our corner.
My colleagues and I (including many people who I have never met) have even put together a sound track for us all to listen to while we stand in the rain on the picket line tomorrow.
So now’s the time to pick a side. Join a union (the UCU if you are in HE), make a difference and change the world.
The UCU is rising. Rise along with us.