Wednesday, May 17, 2006

AUT/Natfhe teaching boycott

First it was "greedy" public sector workers and now it is lecturers. Well, that's according to Sir Digby Jones, who says that he cannot believe that the future of students across the country is being "held to ransom" by lecturers. And I am sure Sir Digby receives an exceptional salary for attacking workers having the audacity to complain about their pay.

Lecturers' in Natfhe and the AUT have voted to boycott setting exams, marking work and also have agreed to walk out if necessary. They are pushing for a 23% pay increase over 3 years while employers have offered 12.6%. NUS has given lukewarm support though Kat Fletcher is worried about how the disruption by lecturers' will have an impact on students. Various student unions' around the UK have condemned the action by the teaching unions as "selfish".

Now, as a union activist myself, I get rather sick of hearing words like "greedy" and "selfish" chucked around.

I used to work in an academic institution (very expensive one) and remember being condemned by the SU President for being "selfish" as Unison activisits were striking over London Weighting. The strike was for 1 day yet that was enough for a rich ex-public school boy to rant at me. I remember being in a meeting with him when he was asked about student poverty and he looked puzzled. He replied that from what he'd read, student poverty was bad for morale. Stating the bleeding obvious, me thinks!

It puzzled me too how students could have voted for this posh twit who spoke about poverty in the abstract and saw unions going on strike as bad. Thankfully, many students' in the college didn't cross the picket line as we had organised ourselves in conjunction with the other unions, including the AUT.

Yes, I can understand the students being anxious and worried about their essays and exams including the fear they may have problems graduating.

But come on NUS, show some collective muscle by demonstrating against New Labour and showing solidarity with the unions rather than keeping your heads down and expecting to get a nice cushy number in the government as recompense.