Tensions between the university’s senior management and the university’s workers is still rising, today the UCU are having a 2 hour strike, from 11 till 1. This type of small disruptive action will continue with Birmingham UCU planning similar actions for the next two weeks.
Furthermore, last night Defend Education went back into occupation, defying the draconian injunction imposed by university management which banned occupation style protests for 12 months. Despite this a group of 30 students occupied the Horton Grange conference building on Edgebaston Park Road. Students will not cower and submit to this universities attempt to supress our worries and demands.
Defend Education, and the current occupiers of Horton Grange, offer their full support to staff who decide to go on strike next today.
We see the aims of UCU, of Defend Education, and of staff and students more broadly, as closely aligned: it is critical that students and staff struggle collectively. It is (non-management) staff who provide us with our education, and it is important that they can focus on their job – without worrying about the rocketing costs of living. It is worth remembering that it is young and new academics who are hardest hit by departmental restructuring and real-term cuts to pay, including the vast numbers of postgraduate students at the University of Birmingham who take on teaching roles.
Education continues to be progressively marketised, fees continue to rise, power continues to shift away from ordinary staff and into the hands of the overpaid senior management; typified by our Vice-Chancellor who enjoys an extortionate yearly salary of over £400,000. At times like these it is vital that the university acts as a community and reasserts its stake over the corporate body. We do this by working together, and recognising that our struggles are in common.
Defend Education has been overjoyed to see the strong and fruitful relationships developing between students and on-campus trade unions. Students have come out in support of staff at the University of Birmingham time and time again over recent years, and we are committed to carrying on doing so. UCU have offered their support to student-led campaigns, including the last years’ occupations: even going so far as to provide a member of UCU to bolster our negotiations committee. It is these relationships that are crucial to the long-term struggle for a higher education system that values education as a public good, rather than vehicle for producing profit.
We implore staff to make the decision about whether or not they should strike according to what is best for our education, and for their and their colleagues livelihoods. Students will rally to support you.