Why we fight 1

August 5, 2010

Regarding the Universities and Colleges Employers Association's refusal to negotiate a nationwide agreement on job security ("National action over jobs cuts likely, union says", 29 July): Ucea's attempts to make real-term pay cuts for the second year running and its plans to end the final-salary pension scheme demonstrate the future direction of industrial relations in the academy.

Behind the employers lies a Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition that is seeking to impose 25 per cent cuts on public-sector funding. None of this is inevitable, necessary or to the benefit of students, staff or higher education generally.

The government's decision to nationalise banking debt and permit an unreformed financial sector to return to generating profit from speculative trading further demonstrates that only City interests are immune from this crisis: no sacrifice is too great to secure its profit-maximising logic, and we should be in no doubt that higher education is a very large sacrifice.

The University and College Union's refusal to accept these changes lying down should be welcomed. The academy will only be defended by those with a genuine interest in its quality and accessibility.

Both the government and employers have already signalled their inability and unwillingness to defend higher education.

It is now time for students and staff to stand up and fight to defend the system from such destructive polices. In doing so, we will be joining the many other public- and private-sector employees and service users who equally will not be sacrificed on the altar of City interests.

Carlo Morelli, President, Dundee UCU.

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