UCU Strike: SU calls emergency meeting after criticism of official statement

The original statement said the strike was "regrettable"

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Oxford Student Union have voted to hold an emergency meeting next week to address concerns over the SU’s stance on strikes organised by the University and College Union

At Student Council, held in Wadham’s Moser Theatre on Wednesday evening, JCR and MCR reps voted to hold more talks to finalise the SU’s position, with 57 in favour and 11

The meeting proposed by ex-OULC Co-Chair Tom Zagoria, follows Oxford SU’s statement on the strike action, which noted it was “regrettable” that proposed action could adversely effect students’ education.

The SU was criticised for appearing to not fully support the plans for industrial action proposed by the UCU in its January 25th statement.

Catherine Canning, Oxford SU vice president for Access and Academic Affairs, said the Union encouraged students “to stand on the picket line with the academics.”

However, a first year from Wadham, Hugo Raine, said the wording of the SU’s original statement implied “placing the interests of academics against those of students.”

A graduate student at Somerville, Rowan Davis, called the Oxford SU’s response “really weak” and “a bit disappointing.”

They said: “You’ll still be able to work at home”, “read your books”, and “chill out”.
Postgraduate students who teach at the University as part of their research work are eligible for membership of both the Oxford SU and UCU.

One member of both unions, from St. Cross College, expressed concerns that the motion “starts from the middle of the story” and argued that “the onus should be put on the
employers” to negotiate on behalf of academics affected by the strike.

Responding to criticism of its statement, SU sabbatical officers directed the audience towards the FAQs section of the SU website – where “full solidarity” with the UCU strikes is now expressed.

They added their intention to reissue a version of the previous statement in the coming days, with the removal of the term “regrettable” in response to disagreement “across the board” with its use.

UCU’s planned walk-outs are a response to proposed reforms of the Universities Superannuation Scheme, as reported by Cherwell last week.

Independent estimates suggest that the changes would cause a typical lecturer to lose £200,000 in pension contributions by the time of their retirement.


  1. Despite how irrelevant OUSU is in 95% of Oxford students’ lives, they somehow manage to mess something up and embarrass themselves on at least a weekly basis.

    The absurdly expensive rebrand and office move they didn’t need. The creation of a radio station no-one wants. Protesting events put on by the students they’re meant to represent. And now they appear to be criticising their own press statement by commenting that there was disagreement “across the board” with what they said – although this clearly cannot be the case given that someone at OUSU managed to publish what they thought. No-one cares what OUSU thinks about the protest anyway. The strike is going ahead and whether OUSU approves or disapproves is going to do nothing about it.

    Can we just vote against having a student union at all? That money could go somewhere a lot more useful.

    • Speaking of out of touch things in OUSU, I might note that regulation 25.1 of the SU (under a section ironically titled franchise restrictions) states that “Only a Student Member who is a woman may vote in an election for Vice-President (Women)”. One might note the distinct irony of this, exactly 100 years after women were first given the vote (although true equality with the franchise wasn’t achieved until 1928). One has to ask if the SU has considered the posibility that this violates the equality act 2010, or the SU’s legal responsibility as a charity to represent students? So much for being a democratic union!

      I would encourage anyone who doesn’t have a vote in council and dislikes the SU to show up to the one Wednesday 17:30 of week 5 (https://www.oxfordsu.org/ents/event/296/) and protest the disenfrancisement, and not just here but through the delegate system. Hey, “Oxford SU believes that peaceful protest has played a major role in bring about social and political changes” and so they ought to be on the recievning end of one themsleves (but not anything overly disruptive so much as visible).

      By the way, worth noting that there is only one candidate running for VP Women who is unopposed (I’d argue that RON should be the default option in this case as no Sabbatical officer should run unopposed unless they are expectionally good). On top of that she both tried to shut down Oxford Students for Life’s (OSFL’s) abortion talk last term, and after the John’s security security guard tried to drag her out, got into a minor scuffle with him and was accused of assualt (and ironically an OSFL comittee member who was the speaker’s son asked security not to remove the protesters), which is why the police were called.

      I can safely say that in view of this, I don’t want a violent candidate with contempt for free speech representing me, and I’d advise anyone who can vote or is willing to do so to vote down a candidate who frankly has acted like a negative stereotype of a Trump supporter in the past (I guess you might call her conduct deplorable. 😛 ).

      To be clear, I’m actually far-left in almost every way, but sure don’t like the authoratarianism and group-think of the SU (my only major disagreement with the left is on abortion but would pose that pro-choice thinking is actually far-right and anti-equality).

      • By the way, to be fair to the SU, I actually think that when it comes to the strikes, changing the statement shows that the sabbbatical officers are listening to the student body for a change- when there was a poll at Bath a few years open to all students on supporting UCU strikes (much the ame but for a shorter period), a margin of about 70-80% of students voting supported them in a vote. What happened is that the Sabbs decided to put out a statement, but the overwhelming consensus in council was that the statement should have been more pro-strikes and more in solidarity with the lecturers, and in view of the opinions at Bath think that the council was more or less in touch with the student body on this.

        So I’m not going to hold this against the SU; I think that so far they have handled this well and there are no shortage of things to criticise them on (lack of proper democracy, attacks on free speech, unaccountability, unrepresentative policies, group-think), and also plenty of good things they do which they don’t get proper credit for (in MLPS division, all female postgrads now get maternity leave due to SU lobbying), they’ve also done some great things with helping minority students (and we only hear about it when they take it to reductio ad absurdum).


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