GSA Statement in Support of Industrial Action
The GSA Student Council has decided to strongly support the upcoming industrial action following a Council meeting on Monday 18th November. The Council felt that the increasing casualisation and inequality of Higher Education was too important an issue to remain neutral, but wish to emphasise that staff, support and services of the GSA will remain impartial in order to continue the union’s work to support all students. The GSA’s independent, confidential Advice Service will offer support and guidance to all postgraduate students affected by the strike. All relevant information and guidance will be on our website, www.yorkgsa.org/strike, as it becomes available.
GSA Student Council Statement
On Monday 18th November, the GSA Student Council met to consider its position on the upcoming industrial action by UCU and its membership, expected to take place between Monday 25th November and Wednesday 4th December 2019 at up to 54 educational institutions across the country.
After considerable discussion, the Council decided to strongly support the upcoming industrial action. The increasing casualisation of Higher Education was a matter of significant concern to the Council members. Many of our wider membership seek careers in Higher Education or already contribute to the education of thousands of students as Graduate Teaching Assistants.
As one of only three postgraduate Students’ Unions in the country, our Council felt it was the GSA’s responsibility to stand with postgraduates nationally in the hope of bringing about realistic, meaningful change sector-wide. The GSA Student Council urges the university to commit to the creation of a Graduate Teaching Assistant contract and pay grade to combat the casualisation of postgraduate research students, like similar initiatives recently introduced at the University of Sheffield.
The GSA Student Council also recognises the considerable disruption caused by the industrial action and would like to call on Universities UK and UCU to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible, in order to minimise the impact on students and their education. The GSA is committed to improving the lives and educational experiences of postgraduate students at the University of York and over the next few weeks we will be keeping students up to date of all information available to us.
Furthermore, the GSA Student Council wanted to emphasise that this was a decision made by the elected student body. The staff, support and services of the GSA will remain impartial in order to continue our work to support all students. The GSA’s independent, confidential and non-judgemental Advice Service will be able to offer support and guidance to all students affected by the strike.
GSA Guidance for Students
If students’ teaching or assessments have been affected by the industrial action, they are encouraged in the first instance to discuss this with their department in order to seek an informal resolution. You can do this by contacting your supervisor, module leader or Chair of the Board of Studies. If students have made their department aware of the impact of industrial action on their teaching or assessment and their department have not made reasonable adjustments as a result of this, they are encouraged to speak to the GSA Advice Service.
If any students have been particularly affected by changes to their teaching or assessment as a result of the strike (for example, if they have a disability or mental health condition which will cause them disadvantage in their assessments or ability to engage with teaching due to changes made as a result of the strike action), they are also strongly encouraged to access the Advice Service for support. Students can make an appointment to speak with a GSA Adviser in person, via Skype or over the telephone at www.yorkgsa.org/book.
Students who are in emotional distress due to the industrial action are encouraged to contact the Open Door service – they can self-refer to Open Door using the online self-referral form linked in the following page: https://www.york.ac.uk/students/health/help.
The Advice Service is unable to provide advice, guidance and support to Graduate Teaching Assistants on employment matters and, in those circumstances, the GSA encourages students to speak to their departmental union representative.
Lastly, the GSA will be booking rooms across campus during the strike to offer students a place to gather and study with friends. Information on the times and locations will be available on our website. Moreover, we will be organising addition space for students to take a break and relax – with tea and coffee available to all.
More guidance can be found at www.yorkgsa.org/strike and through YUSU’s Industrial Action Guidance available on their website.