The WCC UK steering committee and liaisons note that the University and College Union are calling for industrial action consisting of strikes from Monday 25th November to Wednesday 4th December, and action short of a strike from Monday 25th November. We support the aims of the strike, particularly since UCU is seeking to address issues around the gender and ethnicity pay gap, casualisation, stress and mental health which impact our members.
In our own launch survey, we identified that women were much more likely than men to be in casualised or part-time positions than men, even though about the same number of men and women are employed in the discipline. In a 2019 survey on the impact of casualisation in higher education, 71% of respondents said they believed their mental health had been damaged by working on insecure contracts and 43% said they believed that such contracts had affected their physical health. Other studies have also revealed that young workers are more likely to experience anxiety or depression if they are employed on temporary or casual contracts. The gender pay gap also exists at all HEI institutions where classics is taught; in the HE sector, women on average were paid 15.9% less than their male colleagues in 2018.
We recognise that the decision whether to strike or not is a difficult one, particularly for those in precarious employment. We encourage our members at striking institutions to consult the national UCU strike fund guidelines and to enquire about the details of their local branch strike fund, and then make decisions accordingly. Members at non-striking branches may wish to donate to the national fund or a nearby local fund in solidarity. If you have further questions about strike action, we encourage you to contact your local branch for guidance.