By Poppy Askham
Durham Students’ Union voted 16-7 in favour of supporting the University and College Union (UCU)’s strike action in a recent emergency assembly meeting.
The motion, proposed by SU President Seun Twins, and four student officers, expressed the view that “the quicker the dispute can be resolved, the better for students and staff”.
The SU stressed that its stance of supporting the UCU’s campaign does not contradict its recognition of the potentially detrimental impact of strike action on students’ education. The motion noted that: “Students won’t have had a ‘normal’ education for three years, and they deserve the full Durham experience”.
Advocating “reasonable adjustment in assessments” and for the maintenance of teaching and learning quality despite the strike action, will be a key tenet of the SU’s response to the upcoming strikes.
The SU previously passed policy to support UCU strikes when staff walked out in 2018 over similar issues.
The emergency meeting paid attention to the involvement of Durham’s postgraduate research students, who qualify for membership of both the SU and UCU and are especially vulnerable to the issues of staff casualisation and spiralling workload that the Union ‘four fight’ campaign addresses.
The SU has also publicised an open letter from the National Union of Students which calls on employer bodies, including Universities UK, to return to the negotiations and meet the UCU’s demands that they scrap the proposed pensions cuts and to improve conditions for staff.
Image: Adeline Zhao