Strike FAQ

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What is the strike about?

UCU, the union for academic staff of universities and colleges, is conducting strike action on two issues: one relates to the pay and conditions of university employees, and the other to the management of the pension fund, USS, in which many academic staff are enrolled. The UCU branch for the University of Oxford is striking over pay and conditions, but not over the pensions issue.

I've seen you around college and the department: why are you not on strike?

The action is against the University, not against colleges, partly because it would be impractical to ballot the UCU members in each individual college. So, during the strike, I will still be meeting students and giving tutorials, both for Oriel students directly, and for the students of other colleges whom I teach as part of an arrangement between colleges. Also, I am Admissions Coordinator in the University for Computer Science and joint schools, and I do not feel able to withdraw from associated duties when it might have a serious impact on the fairness and efficiency of our admissions process. In a sense, this and the linked issues of fairness and openness of access to education have a higher priority for me than striking, but I will nevertheless make an appropriate contribution to the UCU strike fund.

Aren't you amply rewarded for the work you do?

I think so. But the point of industrial action is that workers take it in a united way. Though my pay comfortably supports my way of life and that of my family, and my conditions of employment leave me feeling secure, there are many younger colleagues who are not in this fortunate position: paid too little to afford to live here, and kept on short-term contracts that offer them no real job security. It is for their sake that I want to be involved.

Isn't it unfair to punish users of your website because of a dispute that doesn't concern them?

If you are involved in education, then the dispute does concern you, as Oxford students have recognised. They realise that some of their best teachers have inadequate pay and untenable conditions of employment, and realise that the continuation of outstanding university education in Oxford is not viable unless pay and conditions improve. Everyone is involved in education to some extent, if only by enjoying the fruits of the research that is done in universities or benefiting from the skills of those educated there. But besides that, you are not being punished, just helped to appreciate the value of what is provided, free for all to use, as a side-product of my working for the university.

You say that the dispute does not involve colleges, but the web server for Spivey's Corner has a college address under Shouldn't you keep it going during the strike?

Spivey's Corner is not maintained as part of my employment with the college; neither is it my duty to maintain it as part of my employment with the university. Materials for some courses I have given in the past are normally available here, but I am not giving any lecture courses at the moment, and if I were, then they would be interrupted by the strike.