Students team up with lecturers in university strike

By Beth Allcock on October 23, 2012 3:21 PM |


Students and lecturers at an East End university joined forces as they swapped their classrooms for the picket line.

The one-day stint of industrial action at the University of East London was staged by members of the University and College Union (UCU) in a protest against proposals that, if implemented, would see their workload increase in the form of more teaching hours, marking and assessments.

Greg Barnett, UCU's regional officer, said Thursday's strike was a sign of how serious the dispute had become between senior management and lecturers, revealing a situation that had not been resolved despite 20 meetings during the past six months.

"The union has bent over backwards to find a resolution settlement but hasn't succeeded so far," he said.

"This has become, as far as I can see from the outside, a less and less happy institution to work at."

Branch secretary Jacqui Mitchell, a senior lecturer in UEL's school of Art and Digital Industries, said the higher tiers of management were trying to "crush" staff for "perverse" reasons.

She said: "It is absolutely with regret that we have taken this action.

"We are passionate about teaching and lecturing and are passionate about our students, so it's really with regret we find ourselves in this position.

"This is all the fault of management - they have put us in this impossible position.

"They want to introduce something that is not appropriate and reasonable."

She added: "For some reason they seem to think we don't work hard enough."

The union has not ruled out further industrial action should the dispute roll on for months to come.

And Student Union member Jonas Liston, 20, said it would take both students and lecturers "fighting together" on a united front to block the plans.

A UEL spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that the union is calling strike action while negotiations are ongoing.

"Regardless of action taken, we are genuinely committed to achieving a negotiated outcome to this dispute and hope to reach a resolution with minimal impact upon the student experience."