Responses to common criticisms

1. A two day strike when there’s no teaching is not withdrawing labour and will just involve rescheduling work to another time.

During the ongoing industrial action by junior doctors, operations were rescheduled and this was clearly understood as withdrawal as of labour. The intention is to disrupt and send a message. UCU advises that if it is not a normal part of your duties to re-schedule teaching, for example, then unless and until you are instructed to do so by your manager, you should not reschedule such work. If you are instructed to do so, you should ask your manager in writing to indicate to you which work you should de-prioritise in order to reschedule.

2. We are relatively privileged workers.

Raising the national pay spine is important for people paid the least, including those on temporary contracts. Every group of workers, within their industry and job location, has to defend its position and give solidarity to others when they stand for their own rights.

3. I don’t care about my pay.

This dispute is not just about national pay scales. UCU’s 2015–16 pay claim included demands for joint employer­/union committees to make serious efforts to close the 12.5% gender pay gap and tackle casualisation across HE, as well as to introduce minimum rates for for external roles often done by precariously­ employed staff. The demands for action on gender pay inequality and casualisation come from long­-running campaigns within UCU and are not token gestures.

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