UvA Casuals Show the Way!
Join Casual Leiden for a meeting on Thursday 28th April, 17.00-19.00, Lipsius 123 on strikes against casualisation. We will be joined by speakers from the UK, the US, and the current UvA strike, who will share lessons from their own struggles on how to organise and win.
Two weeks ago, on 1st April, Casual Staff at the University of Amsterdam announced a marking boycott in opposition to the continued reliance of their institution on temporary staff for structural work. Their action has spread like wildfire.
Eight different departments have been paralysed by the action. The Central Work Council (the UvA’s equivalent of the University Council) has expressed its support for the strikers’ demands, and the CvB has agreed to meet with their representatives. Permanent members of staff have also made their solidarity heard. The University is clearly feeling the pressure. More has been achieved in the last two weeks than in years of negotiations.
The UvA Casuals are showing the way. While universities wring their hands about funding issues, and departments and institutes claim that as long as central decision making doesn’t change there is nothing that can be done, our institutions continue to run on the blood, sweat, and tears of casual staff. When we stop accepting this state of affairs as normal, when we strike and refuse to participate until concrete plans for an end to this system are on the table, we can shut down the university. It is the only language that our managers understand.
Across the Netherlands, staff on temporary contracts are facing the same challenges. They are underpaid, disrespected, and expected to continue to work in conditions of continuous insecurity. Their work is structurally necessary in every higher education institution in the country, yet everywhere they are denied the permanent contracts that the collective labour agreement and the law guarantees them. But with structural work comes structural power. Without casual labour the universities grind to a hold. It is up to us to mobilise that power.
What the strikers are doing in Amsterdam stands in a long and proud tradition of workplace activism in Universities. In 1968, students and workers in higher education raised the slogan ‘The University is a Factory’ to highlight the increased rates of exploitation and the shrinking space for critical thinking. Since then, organisers have answered that call by saying: ‘Shut it Down’. The UvA Casuals show the way. It is now up to us to answer their call.