Students should get compensation

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Students in the Politics department were recently sent an email stating “at root, this is a dispute between employers and employees about pay, working conditions and pensions”.

Whilst I completely understand students standing in solidarity with striking workers, why are students not being reimbursed for the break-in their tuition? If we are accepting that this is fundamentally an issue of labour relations, then shouldn’t we also accept the economic principle that students are consumers, paying their tuition fees for a certain service?

After all, when we are asked to fork out £9,250 a year for tuition, we know what our course is, what academic commitments we will stick to, and generally what is required of us – and we recognise that the University will, in return for our money, provide us with lectures, labs, seminars, tutorials, as well as access to office hours and more.

Did we sign up thinking it would be acceptable for the University to suspend their side of the bargain whenever they can’t treat their workers properly, with no money paid back to us? Absolutely not.

In taking this position, it is absolutely not a contradiction to say that staff should be paid properly. The fault of this entire mess is that of the University. After all, the logic here is the same as any other service.

If you pay for a meal in advance but the meal never arrives because the delivery driver or the waiter refuses to work, you wouldn’t sit back and think ‘well, I fully support the striking driver, so I won’t ask for a refund’.

What’s more, we know perfectly well that the money we have paid won’t go to the service provider, be that driver, waiter or lecturer. Indeed, they are striking precisely because the money coming from customers is being unjustly diverted – be that to the boss’s salary or overpriced art.

The money coming from customers is being unjustly diverted

When the lecturers striked two years ago, this very argument garnered tens of thousands of signatures on a national petition, but no compensation was given.

Let this time be different, and let our voice be heard, so that the University knows that not only are they enraging their employees with their disastrous allocation of resources, but they are enraging their customers too.

Image by 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

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