Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood
Artist Focus
28 views
28 views

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood

Louisa Hunt - April 25, 2018
27 Views

Safeguarding education: Why we take industrial action with a heavy heart

On 18 March hundreds of members of the University and College Union went on strike at Sussex. We aren’t miners or postal workers.
Picket lines of university lecturers can be an incongruous sight and striking doesn’t come easy for us. But on 5 May we did it again. The lines were more like a carnival, thanks to student support. Lecturers politely handed out leaflets. Many had never been on strike or a picket line before. We took action with a heavy heart and a sense of guilt. We had to cancel seminars, lectures and essay supervisions. At union meetings packed with hundreds of members we had discussed what action to take. Worry about disruption to students was a dominant theme.

There are reasons for these actions. In November 2009 the management of the university announced plans to make 115 core workers redundant, if necessary on a compulsory basis. The redundancies are not based on the performance of staff. They have been selected as part of a plan to restructure the university, reducing certain areas. This makes it dangerous to become an expert on something the management may one day not approve of – an issue of academic freedom.
Many of those on the list are among the most dedicated and skilled staff, who have made the university what it is. The plan involves the loss of a swathe of student advisors who help vulnerable students, work formerly done by lecturers not trained to do so.
Nearly 10% of teaching staff will go. The implications for units such as the crèche, Unisex and IT support are well known. Academic areas that resources are being diverted to are ones where we are way behind our competitors. Areas where we have strong critical traditions and an edge over others stand to lose. There will be more cuts.

This is happening alongside big increases in spending in a number of spheres, one being management salaries, including the recent creation of more than a dozen new well-remunerated managerial posts. The top managers making the decisions are, unusually, all from outside the university. They haven’t come through its ranks so it’s difficult for them to be connected with staff and Sussex’s successful traditions.
To many it feels like the caring and sharing parts of the university are under threat and the resources being transferred to the maximum money-spinners. The university has to make money. But money is a means for providing education. The most unpolitical of staff feel the means have become the end – they are being asked to provide education to make money. Other staff, fearing they could be next on the hit list, are understandably keeping their heads down.

Academic jobs are very specialised. Finding one you are qualified for can occur once every year or two, if that, and you may compete with 50 or 100 other applicants or more. It’s more or less impossible to find work without having to uproot yourself and your family. For many academics, their sacking will mean long term unemployment or the end of their career, loss of structure and function to their lives, and financial adversity. Compulsory redundancy is no small thing.
We’ve had redundancies before and everyone recognises the current financial climate can’t be avoided. But redundancies have been voluntary. UCU asked for the job cuts this year to be phased in so those to go have time to find a new job. Brighton University are trying to avoid redundancies by not replacing staff who leave by choice.

Sussex UCU isn’t a militant union. It didn’t argue against cuts. It argued for more humane cuts. The union packaged its alternative savings plan, the ‘Unique Solution’, so that the university could market itself positively, as a consensual employer. UCU never pretended this was a complete answer, but a basis for working together.
They waited weeks for the management’s negative response. Months of negotiations were pursued before strike action was called. 80% voted in the ballot, unprecedented in the history of the UCU nationally, 76% for a strike and 82% for other action, such as an assessment boycott. Independent arbitration was turned down.

The aim was that the ballot would lead the management to negotiate on the Unique Solution. It was a strike ballot to avoid a strike. Throughout the UK universities have responded to votes for industrial action as indicating the feelings of staff, and pulled back from radical proposals, opting instead for consensus. Sussex is unusual in shunning such a path. Other universities have shown there are alternative solutions.
Industrial action is a last resort. Staff just want to do their job, providing the teaching and research that Sussex is hugely respected for. Students just want to do their degrees. We have disrupted your education for two strike days. We genuinely regret this and find it painful to do.
We want more to be avoided. But this is about Sussex becoming a different, and less successful, university: key staff and courses lost, support for students hugely reduced, and education turned into a money earner, rather than something to be financed for the good of those who study here. Morale and community are being damaged, potentially irreversibly. Industrial action is about days of disruption to avoid years of disruption, to safeguard top quality education for the university’s students, now and in the future.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam
Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood
Artist Focus
28 views
28 views

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood

Louisa Hunt - April 25, 2018
Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen
Artist Focus
25 views
25 views

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen

Emma Phillips - April 24, 2018
Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review
Arts
32 views
32 views

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018
26 views

Trial & error: Sex, sass and foolishness through dance

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood
Artist Focus
28 views
Artist Focus
28 views

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood

Louisa Hunt - April 25, 2018

Rory Hinshelwood studies Zoology with Spanish at Sussex. His brand is called Poplar St., at the moment the brand sell embroidered high-quality t-shirts. Rory works mostly in graphics…

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen
Artist Focus
25 views
Artist Focus
25 views

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen

Emma Phillips - April 24, 2018

The Badger spoke with Sussex University’s Maayan Cohen about her creative workshop, ‘Bits and Pieces.’ Can you tell us a bit about Bits and Pieces- what’s the…

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review
Arts
32 views
Arts
32 views

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

As part of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Undisciplined, Voodoo comes to being as a collaboration between South East Dance and Project O. Project O brings artists Alexandrina…

Arts
26 views

Trial & error: Sex, sass and foolishness through dance

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

For the concluding show of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Double Bill brings two short performances to The Old Market’s stage: Comebacks I thought of later by Eleanor…

An evening with Candoco Dance Company – review
Arts
40 views
Arts
40 views

An evening with Candoco Dance Company – review

Georgia Grace - April 24, 2018

Last week at the Attenborough Centre, the phenomenally unique and refreshing dance company Candoco brought to the stage a double bill of performances exploring identity, community and…

Jake Bugg at Brighton Dome
Arts
60 views
Arts
60 views

Jake Bugg at Brighton Dome

Matthew Nicholls - April 19, 2018

Following the release of his Fourth Studio album ‘Hearts that Strain’ in September 2017, Jake Bugg decided he wanted an intimate tour, and that is exactly what…

Should Instrumental Skill Still Matter?
Arts
85 views
Arts
85 views

Should Instrumental Skill Still Matter?

Rob Smith - April 19, 2018

I am not advocating that all music, no matter how little talent is required, is by default innovative. I will eagerly admit that much of the bland,…

Sussex student takes show to Brighton Fringe
Arts
88 views
Arts
88 views

Sussex student takes show to Brighton Fringe

Georgia Grace - April 18, 2018

  Final year English and Drama student Sophie Pester will be taking her original stage show A Glass Half Empty to Brighton Fringe next month. First performed…

What’s wrong with the literary canon?
Arts
76 views
Arts
76 views

What’s wrong with the literary canon?

Shiri Reuben - April 18, 2018

This elusive and slightly archaic category, 'the literary canon' seeps into what we know and what we think we know about 'good' and 'bad' literature. On a simple…

For students, where does work end and rest begin?
Features
102 views
Features
102 views

For students, where does work end and rest begin?

Lucy Pegg - April 17, 2018

Print Production Editor Lucy Pegg examines the difficult balance between work and rest for students. In an environment that blurs the line between productivity and recreation, can…

Cambridge Analytica: did Facebook share your personal data?
Science
79 views
Science
79 views

Cambridge Analytica: did Facebook share your personal data?

Luke Richards - April 14, 2018

The last couple of weeks have been tough for Facebook, as it reels from the public scrutiny it has received over its lackadaisical protection of personal data.…

Brighton Fringe comic Joseph Morpurgo on satire, Frankenstein and his fictitious nine-hour, one-man show
Arts
118 views
Arts
118 views

Brighton Fringe comic Joseph Morpurgo on satire, Frankenstein and his fictitious nine-hour, one-man show

Georgia Grace - April 13, 2018

At The Badger we sat down with multi-talented comic, three-time Chortle Award winner and Edinburgh Fringe favourite Joseph Morpurgo to discuss his show Hammerhead. Following a three-week…

Amritsar: 99 years later and still no apology
Comment
142 views
Comment
142 views

Amritsar: 99 years later and still no apology

William Singh - April 12, 2018

99 years ago on Friday, one British general marched his soldiers into an enclosed garden in the vicinity of the holy Golden Temple and sealed off the…

Talking disability, identity and inclusion through dance – Candoco preview
Arts
125 views
Arts
125 views

Talking disability, identity and inclusion through dance – Candoco preview

Georgia Grace - April 12, 2018

Candoco are a company of disabled and non-disabled dancers who, for the past 25 years, have challenged ideas about what dance can be and who gets to…

Voodoo preview
Arts
86 views
Arts
86 views

Voodoo preview

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 12, 2018

“[A] science fiction that addresses the desire, confusion and responsibility felt as individuals, who are also symbols of many long-persecuted people.” (Quoted from Alexandrina Hemsley and Jamila…

Interview with Chris Watson: Take a trip to No Man’s Land this spring
Lifestyle
164 views
Lifestyle
164 views

Interview with Chris Watson: Take a trip to No Man’s Land this spring

Louisa Streeting - April 6, 2018

Sound recordist, Chris Watson, spoke to The Badger about his new installation piece featured in the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts until 13 April 2018. From…

“A moving symbol of cooperation and humanity” – COAL review
Arts
203 views
Arts
203 views

“A moving symbol of cooperation and humanity” – COAL review

William Singh - March 31, 2018

“This is not a show. It’s something else”, we’re told. Gary Clarke’s dance performance of the life and decline of Britain’s mining communities is certainly something else.…

Brighton’s craft beer festival returns in April for third year
Lifestyle
212 views
Lifestyle
212 views

Brighton’s craft beer festival returns in April for third year

Louisa Streeting - March 28, 2018

Brighton will become the hub of craft beer in more than a dozen pubs from April 27-29. The Brighton Tap Takeover returns for a third year bringing…

Young blood promotes brain regeneration
Science
149 views
Science
149 views

Young blood promotes brain regeneration

Nikolaos Manesis - March 28, 2018

On the "growing old is natural" vs "it should be medically reversed" debate, vampires have crossed the picket line from the get-go and scientists have just proven…

The educational psychology of children with autism
Science
172 views
Science
172 views

The educational psychology of children with autism

Nikolaos Manesis - March 28, 2018

The scientific field of educational psychology studies the relationship between learning processes and the individual differences in cognitive development, motivation and intelligence. The majority of children are…