QMSU's support for the current QMUCU strikes

This is a statement of Queen Mary Students’ Union’s solidarity with the current QMUCU strike action.

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This is a statement of Queen Mary Students’ Union’s solidarity with the current QMUCU strike action.

 

What is happening?

Over 70,000 university staff across universities around the UK went on strike for 3 days in November, with a further 18 days of strike action set to take place across February and March. This would be the biggest series of strikes to affect UK universities. The strike action is taking place in an attempt to make universities improve their employment offer on three themes - pay, working conditions and pension reductions. UCU are also campaigning for universities to take action on ending the use of insecure temporary contracts. 

Since November 2022 staff have also been participating in “action short of a strike”, this means they will not cover for absent staff, carry out work outside their normal responsibilities or make up for work lost as a consequence of strike action.

 

Background for the strike action 

University staff have been taking strike action since 2017 to urge universities to improve their employment offers. This action was paused during the Covid-19 pandemic, only to be restarted post-pandemic. The University sector in the UK currently sits on over £40 billion pounds of reserves with Queen Mary generating cash of over £117 million in 2021/22, however, staff received a pay rise of only 3%. University staff feel that this is unfair, particularly in the context of the cost of living crisis as well as staff feeling that the sector has more than enough money to afford the demands of staff.

Moreover, a third of university staff in the UK have insecure temporary employment contracts, with little job security.  In order to end the use of these temporary contracts as well as improve pay conditions, staff are taking strike action and action short of a strike.

In the pension dispute, UCU is demanding employers revoke recent cuts made to pensions and restore previous benefits. The package of cuts made last year will see the average staff member lose 35% of their guaranteed future retirement income. For staff at the beginning of their career, the losses could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

UCU will also shortly be re-balloting its 70,000 members at the 150 universities in dispute to extend their mandate and allow staff to take further action through the rest of the academic year, this re-balloting campaign will be launched this week.

If you would like to read more about UCU strikes and its background, here are some resources:

UCU - Read more 

BBC News - Read more

The Guardian - Read more 

The Tab - Read more 

 

What are we asking Queen Mary University and its Senior Executive Team?

At the Annual Students’ Meeting held in November 2022, students voted on a motion relating to the UCU strike action. The motion requested the Executive Officers to put out a statement in support of UCU’s industrial action, alongside protecting students interests. Full details of the motion that was passed at the Annual Students’ Meeting can be found on our website here.

Accordingly, the Executive Officers and Students’ Union support UCU members right to strike and ask for better employment conditions for all University staff. We ask the University and its Senior Executive Team (SET) to negotiate with UCU members and university staff in good faith. We also urge SET to consider the wider implication of strike action on students’ education, student wellbeing and student support, in considering negotiations with UCU members. We also request SET to consider the reputational harm to students’ degrees and Queen Mary as an employer during negotiations.

 

Where to go for support?

We know that this latest series of strike actions will cause significant stress, anxiety and confusion for many students. We will seek to work with the University to ensure the impact of strike action on your education and wellbeing is minimised as far as possible. We encourage you to reach out to us, your School or University Student Support services, if you feel you need to speak to someone. 

We have created a dedicated FAQ page to keep students updated on the strike action as the situation evolves. Please refer to our website here for further information.

If you are an Undergraduate or Masters student and are concerned about teaching, assessments, marking and  feedback, or if you are a Postgraduate Research student concerned about issues surrounding supervision, here are some useful links for further support;  

Advice and Counselling Service: confidential and professional support. Students can contact the service directly or request to speak to a Welfare Advisor or Counsellor. There is advice on a range of financial, legal, and welfare issues, such as eligibility to funding, student immigration, visas, etc. - find out more here.

 

Financial Assistance Fund

Funding is available to help students who are experiencing financial hardship, find out more

 

Academic Advice Service

Independent, free and confidential advice and representation open to all Queen Mary students on a range of academic issues, find out more

 

UCU

If you are a Postgraduate Research student considering supporting the strike action please find further information on UCU here

 

 

Your Executive Officers
Radhika, Adi, Jojo, Muneer, Saynab and Charlie
 

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