WHAT’S GOING ON?
As you may be aware, RCA staff have voted in favour of taking industrial action over casualisation, workload, inequality, and pay. UCU (University & College Union) members will be on strike for 14 days unless employers agree to make changes to conditions and pay. The dates for these are as follows:
· Week one - Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
· Week two - Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Wednesday 26 February
· Week three - Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
· Week four - Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March
WHY ARE THEY HAPPENING?
UCU has not taken the decision to hold industrial action lightly. 73 other institutions will be on strike over this period including Goldsmiths, UCL and UAL. Staff working conditions are students learning conditions. Staff are striking for four reasons:
· To end casualisation and rising job insecurity
The RCA hires more lecturers on insecure contracts than any university in the UK. 90% of lecturers were hired by the RCA on insecure contracts according to the Precarious Work In HE UCU Report 2016.
· Tackle rising workloads
Due to unreasonable workloads, staff are working an increasing number of hours outside of their paid hours.
· Address the gender, race, and disability pay gaps
At the RCA the gender pay gap rose to over 10% last year, and currently stands at 10.9% (This means that for every £10 the average man earns, the average woman earns £8.91). Across the sector there is a disability pay gap of 8.7% in favour of non-disabled people, and a gap of 12-13% between white & non-white academic staff.
· Gain pay awards at, or above, the rate of inflation
Since 2009, the value of pay in higher education has fallen by 20% in real terms. Meanwhile the HE sector's income has increased by £11 billion & universities' reserves have almost tripled.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?
The SU works closely with UCU, and supports the strikes. In the words of NUS: This is because we believe firmly in showing solidarity with other unions which fight to make our education better, and that UCU’s action, particularly that for pay and equalities, is integral to improving education.
We encourage all students to show their support for the strikes, and will be meeting this Thursday (Feb. 13) in the Kensington Artbar at 1p.m. with representatives of UCU to discuss how we as a student body can coordinate and act in solidarity with the striking staff.
For those who are concerned about the impact on their studies please get in touch with us at the SU, and we’ll answer as best we can.