Dear Sussex University Occupiers,
I wish to send you our complete solidarity and sincere thanks for the solidarity occupation you have taken in support of university staff fighting for fair pay in Higher Education.
Your actions are an inspiration and once again underline the vital links that unite university students and staff in our collective endeavours to defend the public university.
Staff industrial action that commences tomorrow (Thu Oct 31st) is formulated specifically as a pay claim that demands fair pay for all university staff (a pay rise that starts to tackle the 13% real-terms loss in salaries we have already suffered).
However, this is ultimately about an awful lot more than just a fair pay rise. It’s also about ending the disgusting use of zero-hour contracts – rife at London Met and many other universities. It’s about ensuring a national Living Wage for all (in-house or sub-contracted), it’s about challenging the gender pay gap. It’s about fighting excessive workloads and bullying. And it’s about stoping the increasing privatisation and commodification of UK higher education.
It’s essentially about saying universities are a public good and that students shouldn’t be hit with huge fees and pitted against overworked and underpaid staff.
UCU believe education should be free from the cradle to the grave and education staff need to be paid a decent wage – it’s not an either/or! We insist that Higher Education can easily be paid for in full by simply increasing corporation tax to at least the European average for large corporations (see here for detailed analysis)
It’s about saying it is outrageous that the average pay packet of a vice-chancellor is some £250,000 per year plus benefits whilst many higher education staff struggle on less than a basic living wage of £8.55 per hour in London or £7.45 per hour outside of London.
It’s about demanding that students have classes that are properly resourced with adequately paid, qualified, and motivated staff.
It’s about ensuring students have enough fully resourced dedicated in-house support staff to sort out their needs in as timely and hassle-free manner as possible.
It’s about students and education workers uniting together – as you are magnificently doing via your solidarity occupation, and saying it’s time the bosses that benefit so much from a highly educated workforce are made to pay for it.
It’s about saying these are public universities that belong to the staff that work in them, the students that study in them, and the community within which they are based. They don’t belong to the vice-chancellors and executive groups that manage them.
We are therefore hugely encouraged as you raise your own voices in solidarity with us and shout out loud and clearly – Enough is Enough, No more pay cuts, job cuts and course closures!
London Metropolitan University UCU (Chair)
UCU National Executive Committee