UCU strike in the UK and how to help

At the moment, the University and College Union (UCU) organizes a strike to fight against the new pension plans. A majority of UK academic institutions are taking part in this strike. For more information and latest updates about the strike:


This issue is also relevant for the broader slow science movement, as it is part of the marketization of universities. To give only one but very pertinent example: final pensions would depend on how the stock market performs, not on contributions.

As one of the strikers puts it:

“The real problem behind pensions is this: Universities have borrowed billions in bonds to spend on fancy new buildings – they are becoming property developers. These bonds are then traded on the financial markets so that the more they are ‘de-risked’ the more they are worth. De-Risking the pension to the extent that its modelled on all universities going bust simultaneously isn’t a realistic expectation, but it is a theoretical risk that when transferred to individual academics increases the bond’s value. We are losing our pension security to make more money for bankers in other words.”



  • You can tweet your messages of support to @UCU (union nationally) or to the local initiatives of different universities.


  • Donate to the fighting fund of UCU: there are lots of precarious, early career academics, and single parents on strike who will need financial support for the wages they are losing. https://www.ucu.org.uk/fightingfund


  • The Southampton University, in the midst of the strike, has received an email to make sure to ‘prioritize the partner organisations of Southampton University as part of the Internationalisation Strategy’, of which KU Leuven is apparently the number 2 partner. Therefore we want to use this internationalization strategy to show our solidarity with our colleagues. We would like to collect pictures of you showing a card/paper with (something like) “I support my colleagues in the UCU-strike @ Southampton University [name, university]”. This will only take 5 minutes of your time, but it would be really great if we can collect a big number of pictures. They will be shown on the website of those who strike in Southampton. Of course, scholars from KU Leuven are especially encouraged, but a broad support from all colleagues is highly appreciated. You can send your picture to Valerie, and they will be sent collectively to the UCU strikers @ Southampton.


  • Boycott the institutions from this list, as they engage in punitive behaviour during and between strike days


  • All universities could benefit from your support, so please reach out to any of your colleagues on strike at the moment and ask how you can help them. We can post the actions on our website or help circulate through other means.



Universiteit Gent Women’s Strike 2018

WOMEN’S STRIKE Ghent University 2018

The official website of the event is now available:

Please read the demands and sign the petition:

We willen onze eisen kracht bijzetten door een feministische actie te organiseren op 8 maart 2018: Overeenkomstig de loonkloof, zullen we een “walk-out” organiseren om 15u27. Studenten en docenten worden gevraagd om de lessen te staken en samen met andere personeelsleden en sympathisanten te verzamelen voor het rectoraat, alwaar we graag een open “mic” willen houden, met koffie en een vieruurtje.
Wij hopen dat de Women’s Strike massaal op uw steun kan rekenen!

We want to assert our demands with a feminist action on March 8 2018: a walk-out at 15h27, symbolising the general gender pay gap (on average a woman is paid from 8h00 until 15h27 compared to a fully paid full work day of a man). Students and lecturers will be asked to leave their classes and join other staff and sympathizers at the rectorate, where we will hold an open “mic”, with coffee and a 4 o’clock snack.
Let’s stand together and strike for another university and a more equal and diverse community!

Our demands:


We strongly support your commitment to a more participatory and inclusive university, as expressed in your election campaign. We want to join you in working actively towards a more diverse and stress free workplace, with equal opportunities for all. We would like to remind you of our demands and propose the following actions:


All deans and 75% of professors are men, and a majority of cleaning staff are women and people of colour. Let’s end sexual and racial segregation in all jobs and eradicate bias and privilege in recruitment:
elevate the minimum wages at our university!
stop the outsourcing of service jobs to put an end to precarious working conditions
install quota to increase the number of female professors to at 50%
develop programs to eradicate the barriers for underprivileged and minority groups in entering and continuing in the university


Racist, sexist, ableist, trans- and homophobic discrimination have no place at the university. Let’s not be part of the silent majority that enables this kind of violence and speak up for one another! An open debate and transparent policy that takes unequal power relations at the university into account is the urgent and necessary thing to do.
set up an anonymous contact point and consultation centre to report not only sexual harassment but all discrimination and/or violence in the workplace!
mandatory gender and diversity training for all tenured staff!
unfund any organisation that promotes any form of discrimination or violence!


Good-quality work requires healthy workers with a good work-life balance. We want “slow science” instead of “publish or perish.” Let’s reduce burnouts by reducing working hours, (administrative) demands, unpaid tasks and pointless competition for scarce funds.
promote a culture of collaboration and care instead of competition and control!
reform the current career model and system of personal goals!
Work towards reform the financial allocation model for higher education


Ghent University proclaims to be a socially committed, pluralistic university, with critical thinking as its baseline. Let’s practice what we preach and actively work towards a more caring and diverse university:

we want more effective support for maternity, parent, caring and sickness leave, for all levels, all contracts!
reinstate the recently abolished coverage of anti-conception and abortion by the UGent health insurance plan!
decolonize the university by funding relevant programs and courses and promote feminist and postcolonial mentality that embraces differences!

universiteit gent women's strike