Well, I have my first strike this week. I haven’t been in the job very long so it’s come upon me quite quickly and I don’t know the history etc. From what I understand it is a combination thing, partially to do with the prospective abolition of academic-related grades (which I’m on) this would mean that those of us not in academic positions would go on the same grading as admin etc. The downside of this is that our pay increments wouldn’t be as good the pension provision the same. Now I did hear the other side to this from one of the guys in the dept. I didn’t know that to be academic-related you have to have a degree, this means if a post is classified as academic-related you cannot apply regardless of suitability if you do not have a degree. Furthermore for a management position also a degree is mandatory. The bloke I was speaking to didn’t have a degree and he said those who don’t are kind of looked down upon by those who do, this seems very petty to me as my degree being German gives me no real skill to do the job I’m doing anymore than if I didn’t have one and it certainly doesn’t give me license to feel superior above those who’ve been in the dept for decades. The flip side for me personally is that I do feel that somehow my decision to study has paid off by making me the person I am and being in the position to take this job when getting a job was not the purpose of my degree, not to metion the fact that the debts I have built up need paying off somehow!

The strike is also about some more key things that I have no problem believing in, firstly the student top-up fees and the NUS have called the students out as well. There is no conflict for me on this one. The other item is that they are planning to deregulate the pay structure etc., currently all University staff are on the same grading system except in London where London weighting is paid. They are planning to regionalise the structure which means that many of the more affluent universities will be able to sort out their own pay to attract staff. Now the capitalists say well, this happens in the marketplace, precisely and look at the screw up there. The red brick Unis have many advantages as it is and the UK higher education system has long since been teetering on the brink of a 3 tier system (realistically speaking the ‘new universities’ are still regarded largely as inferior) The way this will take things, it is introducing the market to education. Well, they have already introduced the market to health and look what that acheived. The same geographical discrepancies as this will lead to. Why…? Well, the claim is because of a lack of money, well, yeah you spend so much on fucking war there’s nothing left for anything else, bastards.

I support the strike and though financially it is going to hit pretty hard, these are the times that you are called upon to sacrifice personal things for the good of a higher purpose. I hope it comes to some good, then it will be easier with hindsight to justify it.

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