Another day on the picket line as, across the country, striking lecturers put the pressure on
The second day of the strike. Journalist and author Gary Younge stands on the steps in front of Goldsmiths, University of London:
“We stand in a tradition; the things we have, we fought for on cold days like these… There are always people trying to give us less than we are worth. But, when we have made gains, it wasn’t because people wanted to open the doors for us. We had to kick the doors down… To fight these proposals is to assert our agency in the world.”
In this spirit, across the country, lecturers woke early again and got on the picket line. The talk is of a meeting that Universities UK are having today to discuss the proposals. Many think they will crack and the strike will finish today. If there isn’t progress, the strikers will be back out next week.
Buoyed by the size of yesterday’s turnout, and the high level of media coverage, there is a real sense of positivity. The education establishment did not expect the kind of fightback they are getting, and many of those that took a particularly hard line with the contract are said to be regretting it. Yesterday, the Vice Chancellor of Newcastle University announced he ‘absolutely supported’ his striking staff. Even Tory ministers are claiming to support the strike.
As reports surface of the university pensions boss getting a £82,000 pay rise this year, it is clear that most involved see it as being about way more than the dispute itself. All of the talk is of defending education as a public good, and of the marketisation of universities and schools over the last decades.
Jeremy Corbyn’s rise has led to a significant politicisation of young people, including students, and in part, it is these gains of the last few years that give both lecturers and students the confidence to go out and fight, knowing that they are not on their own. It’s the combination of different generations in political action that the establishment are scared of. This is not a young people's revolt. This is everyone. And this is that unity in action
As we await the outcome of the talks, remembering the tradition of the labour movement, and linking this dispute to the wider project of social change can give us resolve. Along with that, a few extra pairs of gloves would be useful.
Cameron Panting was formerly National Organiser for Counterfire. He is active within the People's Assembly and Stop The War.
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