Don't squeal if strikers lose pay 2

March 10, 2006

I read with interest "Why I'll be striking/Why I won't be" and sympathise with both correspondents. Yes, university staff endure insulting levels of pay and deteriorating working conditions and something must be done. But I believe that strike action is not an effective way to achieve this.

Most of us who decide to teach do so out of a sense of vocation. Decent pay and conditions are important, but we chose our profession to make a difference to students' lives. Strike action damages the future of people who have invested time, effort and money in their education. We should not hold them or their parents to ransom.

Those on strike will lose income, but this has little impact on employers, as they will save money. Strikes damage lecturers' reputation because public sympathy will be with the students, not with those on the picket line causing the suffering. The employers too are damaging their reputation by not participating in meaningful negotiations.

The Professional Association of Teachers - which has lecturers and students in its membership - Jadvocates negotiations to improve pay and conditions and increase investment in higher education. It is only by doing this that we can achieve a better way forward.

Philip Parkin General secretary Professional Association of Teachers

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