Normally I am staunchly against strike action, taking the capitalist viewpoint that companies exist to make money and should do whatever is permissible by law to make that happen with regards to staffing. This is definitely my thoughts on the current British Airways strike, especially as I am due to be inconvenienced by them. However, in an academic context, things are slightly different; the goal is not to make money but to educate. To me this significantly blurs the distinction between condemning and condoning strike action, for to me it seems only right for people to stand up and fight for a high quality of education; something that is not (and should not) be part of the free market.
The issue gets complicated further by the timing of the potential strikes. Calling action in the 3rd term at a university is grossly disruptive of exams and students. This is immensely worrying for those involved who may have future job offers, course offers and careers resting on the exam and more importantly the timely resolution of their grade.
I sincerely hope that UCU didn’t have a huge amount of choice of when to call the strike, given the obvious effects it would have for their students, but I am worried by one sentence on the UCL UCU website which says:
it could also include refusal to mark and submit examinations results
Now I know the point of the strike is to be as disruptive as possible, but there must be other ways that don’t effects students so strongly. Going out there with such a controversial statement sure undermines their message of “fighting for education”, especially when UCU really needs student support to continue the fight against cuts.
In short, I’m not really sure what I think of this potential strike action, which is massive departure from my normal politics. One thing is for sure, it will be a very interesting term ahead. Leave a comment and tell me your views, or even try and persuade me to one side or the other.