As a show of solidarity with striking workers, members of PPU Warwick today chose to stage an occupation within the Arts Centre.

Whilst not affiliated to the trade unions, this action was decided upon as a means to support the strike by increasing its visibility, and further disrupting the daily running of the university.

We have chosen to occupy this site in order to significantly disrupt the operation of part of the university which is central to its broader reputation, and thereby to raise awareness on campus of real terms wage cuts and exploitation of support staff and junior lecturers. In doing so we seek to initiate debate in the student community concerning these issues.

We have acted out of concern at the proposed 1% pay increase for staff at the University of Warwick. This figure is below the rate of inflation and so represents a reduction in the value of wages paid by the university. This below-inflation pay deal continues a trend in the HE sector that has seen a real terms wage decrease of 13% for university workers in the past four years. This devaluation of staff has taken place in a period in which the percentage of HE sector spending on teaching staff has shrunk from 58% to 55%. By 2012 the University of Warwick had accumulated a surplus of £31m. This suggests that the current pay settlement is neither necessary nor inevitable.

The extent to which this pay dispute affects all of us amounts to far more than a day of missed lectures or a disrupted workplace. In recent years student fees have risen sharply; at the same time, the money the university spends on the staff supporting students has fallen. The increasing price of education and the decreasing availability of jobs are driving students to prioritise what they perceive to be in their immediate interest. In fact the interests of students and staff cannot be separated. In order to protect the quality of the university, its research and the experience of students, we must recognise that an investment in staff is an investment in students.

The iniquity of current trends in the HE sector is not restricted to Warwick alone. Across the country students are finding their voice and fighting the different ways in which universities are being driven to produce inequalities in our society as a result of their increasing marketisation. In Birmingham students have recently occupied in opposition to privatisation and cuts, in Sussex students are in occupation now over the outsourcing of university services. These campaigns, together with our own, represent the forceful resurgence of a national student resistance to marketisation of the HE sector. There is much to fight for, and a great deal to be done, but we will all lose out if the current assault on universities, their students and their staff is left unopposed.

Protect the Public University.

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  1. Student / Arts Centre says:

    I am both a student and member of staff in the Arts Centre – fully in support of your cause, but wondering if you have quite considered your location here. I understand the Arts Centre is visible but have you realised that the Arts Centre also exists as an organisation separate from the university, and that many of the staff employed here are employed not by the university but by the Arts Centre? Many of them are paid less than lecturers yet they are the ones dealing with your occupation.
    For example, none of the Front of House or Operations teams are being allowed to leave at the end of their shifts because of the extra work with securing the building. They won’t be able to go home at the end of the day if you occupy overnight because they are legally not allowed to lock up with people in the building. Right now people who have nothing to do with the university and who also get paid barely anything are gearing up to work through the night. Please consider them during your occupation in terms of how you act, the mess you leave for the cleaners, etc!

    • Jonty says:

      The Arts Centre is still owned by the university I suppose – it has to answer to Nigel as much as any academic department does.

      • Student / Arts Centre says:

        Literally no one dealing with the issues at the moment…now including people racing around getting details of schoolkids coming tomorrow for the pantomime just in case the company pulls the show if the occupation is still going on…has any idea who Nigel is. The Arts Centre may technically be part of the uni but it operates as a separate organisation with an entirely different programme and entirely different lowly-paid staff who are having to deal with this.

      • Jonty says:

        I can’t reply to your comment for some reason so I’ll have to reply to myself. You are correct, indeed, for certain none of the staff in the Arts Centre have the slightest to do with the academic departments here, but at the end of the day of ol’ Nige wants them to do something, they’re still technically employees of the University. I doubt that happens very often though, since the Arts Centre runs itself pretty well!

        Perhaps the occupiers would have slightly more impact if they occupied somewhere that anyone in the student populace actually cares about, rather than a council chamber that I didn’t even know existed and a lecture theatre that I’ve never been in.

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