“Undervalued, overworked, undermined” – strike action continues today

Teachers and university staff marched through the Canterbury city centre today in their continued protest over working conditions and pay.

This is the first of eighteen days of nationwide strike action planned by University and College Union (UCU) members. They are demanding action for change to pay, working conditions and pensions.

One senior Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) lecturer explained the reasons behind the strike action and why it is set to continue.  

“The university staff have suffered a 25% pay reduction since 2009. As a whole, the sector has significant issues in terms of equality of pay, gender ethnicity and disability wise.

“There is a real problem in the sector with the workload, university staff at Christ Church are paid to work thirty-seven and half hours a week and most of the people you’ll talk to out here work evenings, on weekends, on annual leave and holidays to meet all the requirements of their work,” he said.

“Undervalued, overworked, undermined,” was one of the slogans for those involved in the strike action. Photo credit: Hollie Spires

UCU members joined with members of the National Education Union (NEU), who are also on strike today, for the march.

The protest began at Westgate Hall, with marchers carrying flags and placards, blowing whistles, banging drums and chanting, “No ifs no buts, no education cuts.”

The march attracted the attention of people of all ages with children as young as 6 attending the protest with parents holding up placards to show support.

The strike began at Westgate Hall, before travelling through Canterbury city centre. Video credit: Hollie Spires

According to the NEU experienced school teachers have seen their pay fall by one-fifth since 2010. The forty-year high inflation of 12.3% also means the offered 5% pay rise is a 7% pay cut.

Local primary school teacher Lizzy explained the impact a lack of funding is having on her school.

She said: “I’m on strike because there is not enough funding for our schools, the children don’t have what they need because there’s not enough funding. It’s not about my pay its about making sure that all the schools have what they need for the children to succeed and at the moment they’re not, they’re being failed.”

Funding is a major issue for members of the NEU. Photo credit: Hollie Spires

The UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: “A resolution can be reached, but that is in the gift of university vice-chancellors who need to urgently reassess their priorities and deliver a deal that benefits staff and students. From February, our union will begin reballoting its members to allow action to continue through the rest of the academic year, should they continue to drag their feet.”

CCCU has stated that its priority remains the education and well-being of its students and that they are committed to minimising disruption to learning.  

Strike action by the UCU is set to continue across the country over the next seven weeks with 17 further days already announced. The next is the 9th and 10th of February.

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Featured image credit: Hollie Spires

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