In a statement released to the public yesterday, Leeds University Union has announced that it will not be supporting the upcoming strikes led by the University and College Union, one of the largest higher education trade unions in the UK.
The LUU Student Executive said in their statement “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.”
This announcement comes after UCU confirmed that the University of Leeds, along with 57 other institutions, will see at least three days of industrial action starting on Wednesday 1st December.
Following the results of UCU’s Four Fights ballot, it was revealed that 76% of those who voted were in favour of the strikes. The University of Leeds branch of UCU saw a 60.8% turnout with 75.2% backing industrial action.
Despite refusing to directly support the strikes, LUU’s student executive team call industrial action “a universal democratic right that we defend” and claim that they 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.”
They go on to describe the “added stress, lost learning and delayed teaching” that they claim the strikes will cause and further highlight that “those most affected by the strikes will be our marginalised students, specifically our disabled, international and working-class students.”
The demands from UCU that have led to the upcoming industrial action are focused on four key areas: addressing the gender, ethnic and disability pay gap; ending contract casualisation and rising job insecurity; tackling unmanageable workloads; and increasing pay and securing pensions.
After the strikes were announced, UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Strikes over three consecutive days are set to hit university campuses next month unless employers get round the table and take staff concerns over pension cuts, pay and working conditions seriously.
‘UCU has repeatedly asked employers to meet with us to try to resolve these disputes. But while we set out pragmatic solutions that could halt widespread disruption to UK campuses, university bosses refuse to revoke unnecessary, swingeing pension cuts or even to negotiate on issues like casualisation and the unbearably high workloads that blight higher education.
‘A resolution to this dispute is simple. But if employers remain intent on slashing pensions and exploiting staff who have kept this sector afloat during a pandemic then campuses will face strike action before Christmas, which will escalate into spring with reballots and further industrial action.’