Largest Ever Higher Education Strike in UK

University and College Union members picket outside the University of Manchester. {Credit: Adam Vaughan/EPA}

In November, an estimated 70,000 researchers, academics and administrators went on strike at 150 different university campuses across the United Kingdom. These strikes are the largest in the history of higher public education in the UK. This struggle has been brewing for some time. Over the past four years, universities have been shut down several times in a series of strikes. Among the demands that have been put forward by the strikers are pay that will keep up with the cost of living, a lighter workload, and a reversal of pension cuts. Like much of the world, inflation in the UK — at around 14% annually — has created immense burdens for the population. There are reports of university staff depending on food banks to get by.

Other workers at the universities as well as students have been supportive of the strikers, often joining the picket lines. They are taking place during a time when workers in a variety of sectors across the UK have been engaging in strikes, such as rail workers, nurses, bus drivers, postal workers and more. It seems like at this moment there is no shortage of people who desire to fight back. The challenge is to bring all working people together to fight back collectively.