The motion was proposed by Dan Marshall and seconded by Dennis Goodtzov ahead of the UCU’s most recent announcement of industrial action, set to take place at St Andrews and 74 other UK universities for 14 days beginning 20th February.
“Motion to call on the SRC to respond to University of St Andrews staff taking strike action for 14 days between Thursday 14th February and Friday 13th March 2020” was passed by St Andrews’ Student’s Representative Council on 4 February.
Following the same demands that led to an eight-day period of industrial action in November of 2019, staff will strike later this month due to concerns over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and the failure of universities to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation, and workloads.
An analysis by First Actuarial suggests that the changes to the USS would see a typical academic paying around £40,000 more into their pension whilst receiving £200,000 less – a net loss of £240,000 in retirement.
Universities and Colleges’ Employers Association (UCEA) research shows that the pay of staff has dropped by around 17% in real terms since 2009. UCU estimates suggest this number is as high as 20.8%
The motion was passed unanimously by the SRC, despite the Joint Councils of the Students’ Association voting down a motion in support of the UCU strikes in November last year.
Dan Marshall told The Saint “We’re pleased the SRC unanimously passed our motion and has agreed with us about the need to engage constructively with striking staff members and ensure that all students are able to find out more from both sides of this dispute.
“We would encourage all students to come to information events and speak to members of staff about the reasons they feel they must take industrial action.
“The issues being raised by our striking staff members
are systemic within Higher Education and so student staff solidarity is vital.”
The motion cites that staff in universities and colleges should be properly supported as they are the “backbone of our educational system.” It also stated that workers have the right to take industrial action when taken in accordance with the law and that members of staff care about providing their students with the best possible educational environment, claiming “the goal of strike action is not to disadvantage students.”
Association President, Jamie Rodney told The Saint, “This is the fourth strike related motion to come before councils in my time as President, and I think it’s by far the strongest.
“Unlike the motion we voted down last semester (which was a carbon copy of one which didn’t achieve anything back in 2018), this motion lets us do the things we were already doing to support the strikes last time, like allowing them use of the Union building, without jeopardising our ability to advocate for students, too.
“It’s not a U-turn, it’s us building on what we’ve learned from failed motions in the past to find a way forward.”
The motion states that during the strike action later this month, the SRC resolves to work with the University to ensure assessment will take strike action into consideration so as not to disadvantage particular students. Striking staff members and supporting students will also be granted access to storage space for materials and venues to host events such as meetings and “teach-outs” within the Students’ Association building.