Catharina Sofie | Staff Writer
Despite the heavy rain last Thursday, students assembled on campus to march towards Sussex House, protesting against the University management’s refusal to meet the demands of the union. From this Thursday on, members of the union will go on strike at 74 universities in the UK to force the Universities to negotiate better working conditions for their staff.
The protest was organised by students and took place last Thursday, one week before the nationwide start of the strikes. However, ‘Sussex support the Strike’ has announced further protests in solidarity with the striking staff as they begin this week.
While not all staff are striking, many students will be affected by the strikes by missing 14 days of classes. A protester explains that despite the disruption, they ‘…support the lecturers in striking, and want the strikes to end by the management taking their demands seriously.’
At Sussex, the strikes stem from a dispute between the Union (UCU) which represents some staff and the University management. The UCU is demanding the management to solve two overarching problems. The first concerns interlinked issues over the rising number of insecure employment contracts, the reduction of payment over the last decade, the gender pay gap (of nearly 15%) and the amount of workload. The second problem concerns the changes in the staff’s pension scheme that have been made in 2011 which have made staff pay more for their pensions while losing tens of thousands of pounds in retirement.
‘Sussex support the strikes’ is a group of students who are calling all students to protest and support the strikes of their lecturers and other university staff. They argue that ‘Staff working conditions are students learning conditions.’
As it stands, UCU strikes are set to continue throughout this week. The Badger will be following the strike action closely throughout the following weeks – so stay tuned for more information.