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Why we should support the lecturers’ strike

Today, Thursday 6 February, lecturers who are members of the trade union UCU took part in an all-day strike as part of a protest for better wages. Some students found this inconvenient. Some missed a few hours of contact time because of it. But this is not something lecturers did lightly. Striking means that they lose a day’s pay, and for those on part-time contracts this can mean losing half your weekly income. Lecturers are taking action out of a frustration with management, and students should support them in doing so – lecturers are not at fault here.


Since 2009, pay for the people who teach us has been falling in real terms. They’ve been offered pay rises of just 1% while the cost of living increases by 2%, effectively meaning that since 2009 the pay given to lecturers has fallen in real terms. It’s hard for anyone to argue that this is fair, and our lecturers don’t think that it is. The UCU union is willing to negotiate on this issue but university management insists that staff should only have a pay rise of 1%, so our lecturers have been forced into taking the only action that management will notice: withdrawing their labour.

Although management want our lecturers to take real term cuts in their pay, this has not been extended to those at the top of UEA’s hierarchy. Last year the Vice Chancellor took a pay rise of nearly £18,000 – a rise of 8%, quite a lot higher than the 1% rise being offered to lecturers. Many of the students reading these words now pay £9,000 in tuition fees every year, and we expect that to properly fund our education. Instead, we’ve seen courses close, UEA London shut down, student union funding cut in real terms and lecturers’ pay cut in real terms. We’re all annoyed when we miss a lecture or seminar because of a strike, but the people at fault here are the Tory-led government for cutting university funding and university management for cutting lecturers’ pay. We should aim our anger at UEA management and the government, not the people who educate us.

Our lecturers work hard every day; they mark our essays, give us feedback, advise us, run our seminars and lectures and improve the stock of human knowledge. They improve our lives and they improve our society. And they deserve fair pay for doing so.


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May 2022
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