A one-day strike by thousands of lecturers in the AUT and Natfhe unions across Britain took place on tuesday of last week.
It was part of a campaign for higher pay. The strike has been followed by an ongoing assessment boycott.
The employers have £3.5 billion extra to spend over the next three years and some of this money should be going to bring lecturers pay up to a decent standard.
Many vice-chancellors are saying there is not enough money to go round – despite having increased their own pay by an average of 25 percent over the past three years.
The unions must bring students on board with the dispute.
The National Union of Students supports the lecturers’ unions, but a number of student unions have sided with the employers.
Sinead, a student at Bristol university where the student union has come out against the action, said, “I think it’s incredibly important for students to side with their lecturers on this issue.
“The people who run the universities want students to think that this is lecturers being greedy.
“That they want extortionate amounts of money and they don’t care how they get it.
“Students and staff are both getting a rough deal. We need to demand more for both.”
The tactic of an assessment boycott with no further action planned risks divisions emerging in the union.
A teaching assistant at one London university told Socialist Worker, “As the numbers of people studying goes up, teaching assistants are increasingly taking over the responsibilities of marking students work.
“Teaching assistants are also on the lowest pay and often on short term contracts.
“This means they are much easier to get rid of – and as a result it is harder to get them on board with this action.”
It is vital that activists campaign for further strike action and that lecturers push for the maximum involvement of all members, so that nobody is left isolated and open to any management bullying.
Some branches are pushing for action committees to reach out beyond the core of union activists.
This is something that needs to be replicated across the country.