All week UCU have had a stall in the Hub as part of the National Recruitment Week, and today the Anti-casualisation Day of Action. So our Reps walked around the Hub talking to students about casualisation and whether they knew the extent of casualisation at Coventry University…this is what they thought about it:
On the 18th June, 2016, Coventry UCU went on strike during the pre-application Coventry University undergraduate and postgraduate Open Day. We decided to host what we called the ‘Alternative Open Day’, in order to explain to potential parents and students the issues with the privatisation and marketisation of higher education that concern both staff and students. The event was an absolute success, with great speakers all day and a very positive response from parents, students, colleagues and residents on the whole. Below are some pictures and videos from the day:
Our ‘handwall’ of support:
Christine Fernandez offering solidarity from Brazil:
Jane Nellist (NUT Coventry TUC) speaking on the links between schools and universities:
Kristian O’Sullivan (Socialist Students) linking student and staff issues:
Dr Myka Tucker-Abramson (Warwick Uni UCU, FACE) speaking out against casualisation:
Coventry Pride showing support for UCU Strike:
NATIONAL UCU STRIKE ACTION: WHY ARE WE STRIKING?
Coventry University staff are out on strike on the 18th June Open Day as part of an ongoing national dispute between University and Colleges Union (UCU), the primary union for academic and academic related staff in higher education, and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). This leaflet explains why we are doing this why it is important for prospective and current students, colleagues, and citizens of Coventry to understand the reasons for our strike.
We like working at Coventry University. We want students to come to Coventry University to study. We believe that Coventry University is a great place to study. However we have concerns regarding the sustainability of both Coventry University continued expansion, and even more about the way the UK government is trying to privatise Universities. In UCU we believe education should be about the public good, and should not merely be undertaken to make people wealthy at the expense of students and their parents and families.
Coventry University is doing well! But who made this happen?
• We are 8th in the UK for ‘value-added’ teaching (Guardian University Guide 2016)
• We are also University of the Year for ‘student experience’ (Times University Guide 2015)
But it is the teaching, research and support staff who have brought this about. These staff have suffered a real-terms pay cut of 14.5% in the last six years. At the same time the pay of Vice-chancellors has risen four times faster, with the average VC salary at £272,432. Alongside this we have seen the rise of insecure and ‘zero-hours’ contracts for teaching staff at Coventry University. Across the sector over half of teaching and research staff are on insecure contracts. Do you want to be taught by, or do you want your son or daughter taught by someone with a proper contract, or someone on a short term insecure contract?
The other issue we are striking about is called the ‘gender pay gap’; where salaries of men are higher than women. This is on average 12.6% across the university sector, and we also want this to end.
What will happen when Universities are Privatised?
Universities are currently legally defined as charities and as public institutions. However this began to change with the introduction of fees and loans, forcing students to pay large sums. Today’s students leave university with an average of £45,000 debt and we at UCU think this debt burden is wrong for students to be saddled with. This was the beginning of the process of seeing education as a private benefit rather than a public good. But the government’s privatisation strategies are continuing. They are determined to ‘open up the market’ to private providers; ‘for-profit’ universities whose primary concern is profit. By introducing a ‘market’ into education, we will see poor quality institutions competing with better quality institutions on fee levels. This will cause closures of Universities across the country, causing further job losses, and it will also create an education sector run by ruthless profiteers with no concern for student welfare and quality education. The British University as we have known it will disappear, and we think this is entirely unnecessary and destructive.
We hope this has explained the reasons we are on strike and hope that whether you are a student, a parent of a students, or a citizen of Coventry, you can see why we are asking you to support our strike, and to support UCU in their national dispute. If you want to contact us further about this please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
On the 25th and 26th May 2015, Universities across the UK engaged in a nationally coordinated strike action. At Coventry University we had pickets both days, and on the Wednesday we held a rally at the Quadrant Club in Coventry with speakers from Coventry UCU, Warwick Uni UCU and Warwickshire Colleges UCU. Both days were a huge success, and as you can see from the above picture, we had many students, staff and residents come and support us.
The University and Colleges Union national dispute has arisen following a pay offer of 1.1% from the employer body, the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), which the union has described as ‘an insult’. UCU said universities could afford to pay more and that the latest offer does little to address the real terms pay cut of 14.5% suffered by higher education staff since 2009.
The squeeze on staff salaries comes at a time when pay and benefits for university leaders have increased, on average, by 3%, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors standing at over £270,000. Recently the Times Higher published results of a survey which revealed that the average pay rise for the majority of academic staff was just 1.3% while vicechancellors received an average increase in their salary and benefits of 5.1%. Once large pay-outs to departing vice-chancellors are included the figure is even higher at 6.1%.
But the strike is not just about pay – the full points of the claim include items on casualisation and the gender pay gap:
• Nationally agreed action for institutions to close the gender pay gap by 2020.
• Nationally agreed action for institutions to reduce the proportion of their staff on casual and zero hour contracts and to ensure that their pay reflects the rate for the job of permanent staff.
8 am – 10:30 am – Friendly picket outside Graham Sutherland building
11 am – 12:30 am – Rally and meeting with speakers from regional branches at the
Quadrant Club in Coventry
8 am – 10:30 am – Friendly picket outside Graham Sutherland building
11 am – Head over with us to Birmingham for the regional rally at Irish Centre at 11:30
Open Meeting Friday 18th March RCG17, 1 – 3pm All Welcome
We invite you to our Spring semester general Open Meeting.
The focus will be on the recent (Nov 2015) government Green Paper: ‘Higher education: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice’ and its implications for staff at Coventry University as well as for the sector more widely.
To lay the foundations for discussion we have written and attached a briefing on the Green Paper: Briefing on Green Paper
The meeting will begin with an introduction to the background and implications of the Green Paper, followed by an open discussion of what we can do both locally and nationally in response.
Please feel free to pass on and/or put up the poster (attached) and the briefing and invite your colleagues (non-members included), if you require disabled access or communications support please email us.
Hope to see you there,
Coventry University UCU committee.
University UCU Women’s Rep Penny Grifiths welcomes two esteemed guest speakers in the second installment of the ‘Celebrating Equality and Diversity’ series:
Rhiannon Lockley (Halesowen College), West Midlands Regional Women’s Rep, will be discussing women’s rights, the gender pay gap, and life as an academic, union activist and mother.
Coventry University’s own Randhir Auluck, internationally published academic, politician, magistrate, board member, trade union activist, and working mother bringing up a child on her own, talks of balancing her roles and the challenge of breaking into some ‘closed’ circles.
UCU Coventry University Open Meeting
Friday 4th March
Richard Crossman, RC322 12pm, All Welcome!
Poster is here…Womens Day 4th March 2016