Statement of Solidarity from Third Level Workplace Watch
Third Level Workplace Watch extends solidarity to students engaged in two significant university occupations, one at the London School of Economics inspired by a second at the Maagdenhuis by the New University/ De Nieuwe Universiteit at the University of Amsterdam. Though these occupations are in different universities and in different countries, their demands are very much the same and shared by us.
We commend their opposition to the neoliberalisation of higher education and fully support the actions they have taken to highlight this issue. We agree that universities and colleges are in crisis. Neoliberalism has fundamentally changed the nature of work within higher education. An increasing reliance on low paid, casual labour to deliver much of the teaching load is now commonplace across the sector. The higher education workplace is now even more hierarchical, exclusionary, gendered, and racialised as fewer women and people of colour get into permanent ranks, trapped instead on the hamster wheel of temporary work. This precarity is a feature of neoliberalism – systemic, enduring and exacerbated by austerity budgets, but not created by them.
Exploitative work practices directly impacts on the quality of education. Staff, student ratios are increasing, fees are rising, and teaching is undermined by a reliance on unpaid/low paid casual labour.
Those on hourly paid and zero hours contracts receive inadequate remuneration for their work, often completing student feedback, consultation, lecture and module preparation for free. Many of these lecturers are forced to rely on social welfare in order to survive. Some of these workers are students who also pay high fees to the same institutions that exploit their labour.
Our working conditions are your learning conditions. Your struggle is our struggle.
Solidarity to all those involved.
Third Level Workplace Watch