On Tuesday 16th November, University and College Union (UCU) members at the University of Leeds announced their intention to strike from the 1st-3rd December and in the spring term (confirmed dates above), and to continue with action short of strike (ASOS) until May 2022.
As the student executive team we have one priority; protecting and supporting the students of Leeds University. It’s what we are elected to do; what we are passionate about and what we are always thinking of as leaders of your students’ union. We will always put our students’ interests first and have considered this when deciding how we view the planned strike action by UCU.
The right to strike is a universal democratic right that we defend. We support, without question, the right to fair pay, decent working conditions, a secure retirement and contract terms and conditions that reflect the work of teaching staff. We believe that happy supported staff will be better able to teach and support our students.
Many of our members are also teaching staff, which is why we have actively promoted the concerns of our postgraduate research members to the University, whilst also discussing undergraduate and postgraduate taught member concerns with UCU. We will continue to do this.
We have met with and listened to the arguments, concerns and positions taken by UCU & the University. Sadly, the problems being discussed are not new ones and have been going on for years. We understand that teaching staff want to reopen negotiations and move forward with strike action. We also recognise the Fairer Future for All pledges announced by the University, which look to address some of the issues, and we will be holding the University to account to make sure it delivers on its promises.
The challenge we face as student leaders is that we don’t believe this current strike action is in the best interest of students, and our focus has to be what’s in the best interest of our members. In light of the past two years of COVID disruption, previous strike action and ongoing variations to teaching because of COVID concern, strikes right now will inevitably lead to added stress, lost learning and delayed teaching. Those most affected by the strikes will be our marginalised students, specifically our disabled, international and working class students. This added burden on our members is something that we want to avoid at all costs.