Staff at City, University of London begin eight-day strike action

Teachers from City University on strike today. Picture: Hamza Azhar Salam

Teachers from City University on strike today. Picture: Hamza Azhar Salam - Credit: Archant

Staff members at City, University of London today started an eight-day walkout over pay, equality, casual contracts and rising workloads.

Some 79 per cent of University and College Union (UCU) members backed strike action in a recent vote and they will not be teaching throughout the protest.

Sarah, a PhD student and a visiting lecturer in the sociology department told us that she hadn't been paid a "single penny" since she started working in September.

She told the Gazette: "This is atrocious, I don't know what'll happen to my housing situation and quality of work. Students know that I've been working for free. I'm appalled and shocked."

Sarah's contract didn't arrive till the end of October even though she has been teaching since September.

Juvaria Jafri, a lecturer in international political economy told us she was protesting against the casualisation of contracts. "Temporary employees are expected to do the work of full time employees," she said. "They have vulnerable and precarious contracts. Even though my contract is now full time, the issues which created these structures still persist."

Being on a Tier 2 work visa makes Juvaria's decision to strike a risky decision. The university has to send the attendance details of every Tier 2 employee to the Home Office.

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"My salary cannot fall below a certain threshold but when I strike, I don't get paid," she added.

When asked about the impact of this strike on her students, she said "Some students are talking about compensation but we explain that we are talking about higher quality education for them. We want a fairer and more inclusive system."

According to data released by City University, the average gender pay gap at the university was 14.7pc. Protestors have also complained about the fact that their wages have not kept up with inflation and the recent change in their pensions will severely disadvantage them upon retirement.

Ahmad, a business student at the university said: "I support the strike because it is unjust for the professors to be paid hourly because they work overtime for our classes and temporary pay impacts their productivity and demotivates them, resulting in a lower quality of education."

Jeremy Corbyn today backed the strike action. He said: "Staff at universities are striking over the next eight days, and I stand with them. University staff deserve fair pay, secure contracts, reasonable workloads and decent pensions. Labour will end the marketisation of education, and we'll put staff and students first."