OVER 300 striking lecturers, university staff and students rallied outside the Universities UK (UUK) HQ in Tavistock Square, central London yesterday shouting: ‘Hey, hey, UUK, our pensions are here to stay!’
Staff had come from universities around London to join the rally and march marking the end of their second week of strike action.
Nationwide, 74 universities are out for 14 days with a four-day strike next week.
At the rally, Nicola Countouras, UCU at UCL, told News Line: ‘Casualisation is clearly becoming part of the “business model” through which universities are marketised.
‘It is very clear who is the winner and who are the losers in that model. This is the “on demand” version of the new education economy.
‘This is the “uberisation” of the workforce.
‘Those on casual contracts are only paid if and when their educational services are required!’
A representative from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Debby Pope addressed the rally.
She said: ‘We stand with you in your fight. Your fight is our fight. We were out for eleven days of strike action in October over wages and conditions. But there were so many other issues involved; class sizes, auxiliary staff pay, housing. Students and parents supported us.
‘We stand in solidarity with your struggle.’
Then, from the French University the Sorbonne in Paris, Elisabeth Fauquert brought solidarity from the librarians, teachers, doctors and all other workers out on strike in France.
She said: ‘We stand with you in the fight to make sure education is there for everyone and is there for the public good.
‘We have engaged in a strike of historical significance. We have been out on strike since December 5 and more and more workers are going on our indefinite general strike.’
Joint Secretary of teachers union the NEU, Kevin Courtney spoke to support the university strike.
He said: ‘Tomorrow, 34 Sixth Form Colleges come out on strike. Our dispute is with the government who are not providing adequate funding. We are also striking for both our staff and our students.’
‘We have asked all NEU branches to twin with a UCU branch so that or members come down and support you on your picket lines.’