- Write to the Vice-Chancellor and tell him that you support your colleagues and our demands. His email address is
firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s a template email that you might want to use:
Dear Prof. Forster,
I am writing to express my concern about the failure of university managers, including at Essex, to resolve the ongoing industrial disputes with the University and College Union (UCU).
I stand in support with my colleagues in their fight against cuts to their pensions and their calls for action to address stagnating pay, excessive workloads, widespread and increasing use of casualised contracts to meet permanent staffing needs, and unacceptable inequality in the sector.
These problems are of concern not only to UCU members, but to all staff and students. University staff deserve work-life balance, and we need the time, resources and stability to be able to provide the world-class educational experience that students deserve.
I am calling on you and the rest of the senior management team at Essex to publicly lend your voice to UCU’s demands so that the national disputes can be resolved as quickly as possible, and to set an leading example to the rest of the sector by taking strong and decisive action on the issues that can be addressed locally.
- Talk to your friends and colleagues who may be less sure about the strike. Push back against the rhetoric of senior management which may seek to convince you that there is nothing Essex can do, or to make you feel guilty for inconveniencing students. Striking is an absolute last resort, and it’s very regrettable that it’s come to this yet again, but we all have a responsibility to our junior colleagues and our future students to ensure that we all have the necessary working conditions to do our jobs properly.
- Don’t take on the work that striking colleagues have withheld: this means our strike action is less effective, and you are working for free. Even if not, the chances are that you’re working well over the hours on your contract anyway: resist the endless workload creep, and refuse unnecessary tasks that take you over your contracted hours. Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of.
- If you’re a UCU member, and you’re not striking for financial reasons, consider whether the local and national strike funds might make it financially viable for you. If not, consider taking action short of a strike, which currently incurs no financial penalty.
- Join UCU if you’re eligible. If you’re a PhD student, for example, you may be entitled to cheap or even free membership! If you’re already a member of UCU, consider talking to a member of the committee about issues that are important to you and how you can help us fight for them: we’d love to have your input on what needs to be done, and we always need more volunteers to help do the work of securing a better future for us all.
- If you’re in a position to do so, consider donating to our strike fund. This helps financially insecure (including very junior) staff to demand better working conditions for us all.
- Join us on the pickets, come along to our teach-outs and social events, and chat to us – solidarity between striking and non-striking members of staff is very important to us!