UCU Picket Line outside St Mary's University

Strike at St Mary’s University during biggest day of action in a decade

A picket line formed outside St Mary’s Univerisity in Twickenham today as part of a nationwide organised strike day.

The University and College Union (UCU) set up a picket line at the entrance to the university in their bid to pressure management into increasing the current 3% pay rise offer.

Dr. Stuart Oliver, 59, a senior lecturer at St Mary’s and branch chair of the UCU, was part of the strike and said he wanted to remind university management of the value of staff members.

He said: “What’s important here is not just spreadsheets and money but it’s actually the people who run the place, who provide the education for students, which is notionally the reason why the university is here in the first place.”

The primary reason for the strikes is staff pay, which the UCU estimated had decreased by 25% since 2009, while negotiations for pay increases with employers led to offers of a 3% increase despite living costs rising.

Alongside money, Oliver stated that heavy workloads, casualisation and research time cuts are leading to staff struggling to cope with their conditions, affecting their ability to help students and live a normal life.

Oliver conceded not everyone was in favour of the strikes which have caused disruptions to student lives and classes. St Mary’s campus was quieter than usual today due to the lack of lectures and students.

While Oliver apologised for the inconvenience, he believes that what they are doing is best for the long term future of student education while thanking the support from the National Student Union for their cause.

The University and Colleges Employers Association said they had offered UCU a final offer of around 5% to 8%.

They said: “This offer prioritises the disproportionate effect of high inflation falling on the lower paid but still with a minimum of 5% for all other members of staff.”

This was one of many UCU strikes that took place at 150 UK universities today, with another 17 planned days of strikes throughout February and March.

Featured image credit: Alp Salfur

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