University workers strike over pay

Picket line at Sussex

Higher education workers at 149 UK institutions are taking strike action today after rejecting a 1% pay offer.

Lecturers and support staff are taking part in the industrial action, organised by the three major unions in the sector - University and College Union (UCU), Unison and Unite.

University workers have taken a 13% pay cut in real terms since 2009 according to the unions.

Students at three universities - Sheffield, SOAS and Sussex, occupied university premises yesterday in solidarity with the walkout.

Post your updates in the comments below.

Comments

Rob Ray
Oct 31 2013 13:36

Queen Mary University: Decent number of pickets and very visible student support despite the rain, managed to cover all the entrances. Low number of people going in and out while I was there (7.30am-8.30am) and several turned away. Best moments I saw were when the driver of the damn great truck full of gas canisters agreed not to cross and blocked the road for five minutes trying to turn his rig around, and managing to persuade a lecturer to cancel their class for the day (they crossed, but only to leave students a note on the door before coming back out again wink).

UCL: Much tougher crowd, lots of students keeping their heads down and scooting inside without even bothering to acknowledge the pickets, got a few people to turn around though including a charming old lecturer who had no idea it was going on when they turned up but promptly left again when informed - which is more than most of the Grade 9s managed...

Joseph Kay
Oct 31 2013 13:49

Sussex had big pickets and campus seemed pretty quiet, but not shut. Some of the pickets said they had set up 'out of office' emails to send strike propaganda to anyone emailing them, which was a nice touch. A couple of cops came and went without incident, but that didn't stop a couple of UCU officials repeatedly trying to disperse their own picket on grounds of 'obstruction' and 'intimidation', which led to an odd bit of direct action with some students linking arms to refuse to move. Apparently there's a fairly big rally and march in town happening now, but I've gone home to dry off and warm up.

Harrison
Oct 31 2013 14:32

Hull
Good student turn out, no lecturers turned up, although it was confirmed that several respected the strike.

Very little respect given by people to the principle of not crossing the line, it was overall unsuccessful at turning people away. I couldn't tell whether it was that the line was just unsuccessful at this, or if it was only meant to be organised on the basis of visibility.

Lots of students didn't really understand the idea of a picket line, and hence a lot of people stated they supported it but went in anyway.

jonthom
Oct 31 2013 15:42

York

pickets at York Uni and York St. John, fair turnout - mix of workers, students, union folks and supporters. saw some students crossing but not sure about staff. only comments I heard from passersby were positive including one guy who visited each picket at YSJ and gave boxes of Roses smile

Serge Forward
Oct 31 2013 17:21

De Montfort University
Unison pickets from 7am, UCU from 8am - spread out at various locations on the campus. Some admin staff went in (many of these are agency temps who don't technically work for the university), most teaching staff seemed to be out with relatively few scabs. The section I work in was 100% solid cool Again, majority of students seemed to be fairly clueless about strikes but with several notable exceptions

Leicester
Unison, UCU and Unite. Don't know how their picketting went but I heard some students went on the roof in support of the strike. That's the spirit, kids black bloc

Both
Rally in Nelson Mandela Park with speakers from the Trades Council and the various unions involved.

Chilli Sauce
Nov 1 2013 09:11

A bit of late solidarity to all involved!

Also, when I was working in a school, I found two things:

1) Students were basically clueless about strikes and
2) Being a predominantly young staff, most of them we quite clueless about the strike and the picket line.

In any effort to counteract this, we attempted to do up a sort of plain language leaflet which we handed out about a week prior to the strike. Obviously, the chief goal of any leaflet is to begin a conversation, but short of that, plain language is the way to go.

Anyway, the leaflet is unbranded, so if there are future educations strikes, please feel free to adapt and use if you think it will be helpful:

http://www.solfed.org.uk/education-struggle-are-our-struggles

Spikymike
Nov 11 2013 18:51

A bit late but I thought this unusually straightforward and honest account of the efforts of one individual worker (a non-aligned left communist) during the strike to show solidarity whilst maintaining their critical approach to the three unions involved was worth a read:

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201311/9245/universities-strike