Workers at the University of Sussex are on strike today, Wednesday, demanding equal pay and an end to casual contracts.
The UCU union members also want more than a 1.1 percent pay deal offered by bosses.
Tom Frost is secretary of the UCU at Sussex. He told Socialist Worker, “An awful lot of our members are angry about casual contracts.
“The fact that 26,000 university workers are on zero hours contracts is a disgrace.”
The strike is part of a national campaign over pay that saw workers strike in Edinburgh and Kent yesterday. UCU members at the University of Winchester kicked off the programme of rolling strikes on Friday of last week.
Tom said students were out supporting the strikers at Sussex, along with workers from Brighton university. “Students don’t want to be forced to pay £9,000 a year to be taught by someone on insecure contracts,” he said. “It doesn’t make for a good learning environment.”
Workers chose today to strike because there are exam boards awarding degree marks and also a university senate meeting taking place. Pickets spoke to management going into the meeting and urged them to pressure the bosses’ body UCEA to make a better offer.
Tom said, “Management often say they’ll have a working group to look at the issue of pay. But the Equal Pay Act was passed 46 years ago. We don’t want another working group – we want equal pay. And we want an end to zero hours contracts.”
Strikes are set to hit Glasgow university and the University of the West of Scotland tomorrow. Workers at Bath and Bristol universities are set to walk out on Friday. The union plans further national action in the autumn if bosses don’t back down.
“We will be working to contract as part of the campaign,” said Tom. “And if they don’t come back with a better offer we’ll begin a marking and assessment boycott in September.
“Workers are prepared to do that because because they feel so strongly about this issue.”
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