University academic and support staff held a second strike over pay last Tuesday, following previous action on 31 October, with student at one University of London college staging an occupation in support.
Members of four unions – the University and College Union (UCU), Unite, Unison and the Educational Institute of Scotland – formed picket lines all over the country on 3 December, opposing a 1% pay rise offer which they say constitutes a 13% real terms cut sincere 2008.
Last Tuesday’s action forced the University of London to shut Senate House Library and caused class cancellations across the city.
The strike also say Goldsmiths students occupy Deptford Town Hall, which houses university management offices, in support of the strikers. Around 100 students moved in last Monday evening, with around 30 saying until 12pm the following day.
Their occupation came after other by students in Sheffield, Edinburgh, Sussex, Ulster, Birmingham and Exeter.
In a statement, the occupiers said managers should look to their own incomes to find savings. “The university sector has the biggest pay disparity of all public sectors, with the gender pay gap widening with every new government policy of marketisation”.
In an open letter to Pay Loughrey, Goldsmiths’ warden, members of the university’s UCU brand wrote: “While salaries of lecturers and support staff have declined in real terms, the same cannot be said of the warden who has recently been awarded a 9% pay rise and benefits from a pension contribution far in excess of the annual salary of most support staff”.
A Goldsmiths press officer response to UCU’s letter by emphasising that of the four years Loughrey has been warden, he has only accepted a pay rise in one of them, making his average yearly pay increase just over 2%.
He also claimed that Loughrey was “well below average” in league tables comparing university head’s salaries with seventy others earning more than him.
Adrian Polglase and Nicholas Winchester, London Student: Issue 5 (09/12/2013)