Cardiff Socialist Students at 1 Feb strike rally. Photo: Ross Saunders
Cardiff Socialist Students at 1 Feb strike rally. Photo: Ross Saunders

George Phillips, Cardiff Socialist Students

1 February saw members of the University and College Union (UCU) join over 500,000 workers across the country in the largest day of industrial action in over ten years. As they did in November, university staff are taking action over pay, pensions and working conditions. University bosses refuse these workers the pay rises needed to tackle the high level of inflation hitting all workers hard.

Each of my four years at Cardiff University has seen disruption from strikes, Covid or both. Students are understandably frustrated at more disruption. But the biggest disruption to our studies is the cost-of-living crisis.  Student maintenance loans are set to increase by just 2.8% in the 2023-24 year, compared to RPI inflation of 14% in November 2022.

Universities should not be run like profit-making businesses, they should be run by students and staff, for students and staff and wider society. Socialist Students campaigns for free education – scrapping tuition fees and the return of university grants, available to all and funded by the government. All third-party student accommodation must be brought into university ownership and rent controls put in place, so students are not being ripped off by money-grabbing landlords. The money is there but those in power make a choice not to use it.

Strike or no strike, many students do not feel we are getting the quality of education £9,000-plus a year warrants due to the conditions faced by staff. The learning conditions of students is directly related to staff working conditions. Lecturers and staff who are overworked and underpaid are not able to deliver the quality of teaching they desire and we deserve.

Students should join picket lines and show support for UCU members. Students need to be organised too, so we can more effectively link up with striking workers and fight for our own demands – for cost-of-living grants, free education and rent control.

On 15 March, Budget Day, the National Education Union has called its next nationwide strike day and is organising a mass protest in London, civil servants’ union PCS will also be taking national strike action. Other unions could join to have a day of strikes even bigger than that on 1 February. We are all on the same side, in the same fight against the bosses. Why not make this a massive day of coordinated action with students in schools and universities organising walkouts alongside striking workers?