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Why Cardiff closed down
ASSOCIATION OF University Teachers (AUT) members went on strike in Wales on 23 February as part of the rolling programme of strike action against the university employers' pay offer. They joined with students protesting against top-up fees and student debt. AUT member DAN BINTLEY reports.
CARDIFF UNIVERSITY was effectively closed on 22 February. AUT general secretary Sally Hunt told the lunchtime rally; "Since the mid-1990s, universities have awarded vice-chancellors pay rises twice as high as those for the very staff who keep the institutions going day-to-day.
"Academic and related pay has fallen by 40% compared to the test of me workforce during the last two decades, hard-working staff simply won't accept that lying down."
On the picket fines, angry striking staff agreed. One physics lecturer said: "Seven years' training and ten years' working, yet I could work shorter hours and earn more as a lorry driver. The new pay scale does nothing to change this."
For some the biggest grievance is the lack of job security for researchers and others on short-term contacts. "It's impossible to plan for the future, as there's a threat of redundancy every few years when the research grant ends."
University workers are determined to halt the decline in pay and conditions and prevent me downgrading of those jobs currently classed as academic related.
We must follow this successful action with more national strike? if necessary and carry through the boycott of student assessments, call-out cover, job evaluation and staff appraisal schemes to force the employers to concede.
University management countrywide aimed to undermine our struggle by trying to divide the workforce. Unfortunately the leadership of UNISON, TGWU, Amicus, GMB and NATFHE have signed up for the employers' offer. We need to approach these unions at local level to build united action.
LECTURES AND staff picketed Bristol University's main buildings on 23-24 February.
Tom Baldwin, Bristol Socialist Students
There were rallies each day, over 200 attended the one on 24 February.
Action short of a strike will commence on 1 March if the employers won't return to the table.
Despite this week's national linking of action by the AUT and NUS, Bristol students union, which recently voted to dissafiliate from the NUS, has encouraged students not to take part in the pickets.
Socialist Students supports the joint action.
We believe students and lecturers are a more powerful force to fight attacks on Higher Education when united and call for Bristol to remain part of the NUS and work towards a more effective union capable of fighting government attacks.
In The Socialist 28 February 2004:
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis