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Strikers, Assemble!

That’s right, it’s back! After a long-anticipated wait, it’s time for the Edinburgh Uni Strikes Round 2! After extensive deliberations, no decision has yet been made, so there will be more strikes in February.

Whilst approaching the famously stress-free period of mid-term assessments, these strikes are a welcome interruption from all the late-night study sessions at the library, and the endless research and citations that make a government COVID briefing look like an action movie.

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I’m sure many students will have read the email sent out by the Vice Principal about the industrial action taking place. I must admit I found it incredibly amusing to read that the University had measures in place to prevent disruption for students. After experiencing both strikes this academic year, I am yet to find out what these measures are and how exactly students have experienced reduced disruption.

Especially after experiencing the majority of our teaching online, many students (myself included) will have enjoyed all their tutorials in person this semester with some being able to experience in-person lectures.

Throughout this conflict, however, I find myself in a difficult position. I fully support the strike as I agree that staff should be treated fairly and according to the work they do. However, I am still annoyed that I am expected to continue with my work as if nothing is happening! 

Especially whilst mid-term assessments are ongoing, it’s much more difficult without the support of tutors. During Semester 1, we had the chance to discuss and ask questions about exams and essays. I know many others are struggling without this opportunity to ask for help. Furthermore, many WhatsApp group chats I’m in are flooded with questions about whether certain tutorials are going ahead, or lectures & whether they’ve been uploaded or are cancelled. The lack of communication on behalf of the University is abysmal.

This level of confusion absolutely screams “reduced impact on students.”

I wonder if it is selfish of me to be thinking about myself and my priorities during this conflict. Should I be thinking – why do I still have to pay my tuition fees if all of my tutorials and lectures are cancelled? Or is this incredibly self-centred and inconsiderate?

In spite of all this confusion for students, let’s discuss the key issue – why does the University persist in refusing to pay staff what they’re owed? For those unaware, the main cause of the strike is the restructuring and cuts to the USS (the pension scheme that represents many academics).

My main question is why are these cuts being made? Did the lads night out need more money for drinks? Did the Uni take a tip from Boris but accidentally order too much cheese and wine for Christmas? All great ways to spend our money but, whatever the reason is, cuts needed to be made somehow and what better way to reward the hardworking staff than to cut their pension schemes!

In spite of the general calamity caused by these strikes, I do enjoy getting a lie-in on a Monday instead of going to my usual 9am tutorial.

As this week of strikes draws to a close, we can all welcome reading week as a chance for some well-deserved relaxation after the stress and hard work of midterms. And who knows, maybe we’ll be extra lucky and have another three days of strikes to look forward to when we come back!

Image courtesy of Magnus Hagdorn via Flickr