By Sophie Squire
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Indefinite strike at Brighton university battles job cuts

One of 22 workers in the first wave of sackings speaks to Socialist Worker
Issue 2866
Brighton university strike . Line of pickets with placards against redundancies. They are in the sunshine and look determined

Brighton university strike pickets were at the graduation ceremony last week (Picture: Brighton UCU on Twitter)

Workers at The University of Brighton are standing firm and continuing an indefinite strike. Bosses at the university first revealed a plan to make redundancies on a large scale.

Then they decided to dock 100 percent of workers’ wages for participating in the marking and assessment boycott (Mab). UCU union members are taking part in the boycott as part of the national dispute over pay and conditions.

Kate Aughterson is one of 22 workers in the first wave of sackings at the university. She told Socialist Worker that she feels “betrayed” by the choice to get rid of her and her job.

“I’ve worked here for 21 years. I helped to set up the literature degree here.

“I currently am responsible for seven PhD students. I run popular course options on women’s writing and feminist writing.”

Kate explained that she believes that the way workers were assessed on whether they should keep their jobs “showed hidden agendas.”

“Managers and the bosses used an excuse that our teaching doesn’t speak to university aims.”

Kate added that she believes university bosses are playing hardball because of the union’s strength.

“They’ve drawn a line in the sand with these redundancies and want to say that they’ve beaten us.

“They announced the redundancies in May, when most of the students had gone and when staff started to go on holiday. Yet the response from students and staff has still been great.

“Anger is fuel. We need to go full throttle to win,” Kate added.

Last week students stood with staff at their graduation ceremonies. Students wore sashes that said “Hands off our tutors” and chanted “No cuts” as they picked up their degrees.

And it’s not just at Brighton that students are making it clear that they are angry with university bosses.

Students held similar protests at Queen Mary University, Leeds University, The University of Liverpool, and the London School of Economics.

The Mab has put pressure on university bosses. UCU general secretary Jo Grady and other union leaders have tried to say that they are making progress in negotiations with the employers’ body UCEA.

Yet members have been given no evidence of this.

Grady has also failed to organise a summer strike ballot so that UCU members can strike in September, despite delegates voting for it at the union’s congress in May.

As UCU Left, which Socialist Worker supports, wrote, “The general secretary wishes to bury the Mab and our dispute, and instead claims to employers that it will begin again in 2024.

“We must and can win now, not in some dim and distant future.”


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