As the UCU strike carries on into its 4th day, we put together some short reports from picket lines around the country
Queen Mary University, London - Katherine Connelly
Despite the bitter cold, a lot of pickets had turned out and so had a number of supporters - including former staff and students, local unison and NUT members. Everyone was very positive about the strike and what can be achieved. This was the first day of strike action at Queen Mary - its half term fell on a different week to some other colleges - but the vibrancy of those first picket lines was infectious, a number of striking lecturers said this had really transformed the atmosphere this morning. This was a confident and happy picket line, with colleagues supporting each other and 'new faces' joining the picket line - showing this strike is really resonating. There were homemade banners, bunting and even confetti. There is so much hope and determination on these picket lines and a victory could really start to challenge the increasing marketisation and misery being inflicted on higher education, with students and lecturers getting progressively poorer. So going to the picket line to show support strengthens us all.
Newcastle University - Graham Kirkwood
Good turnout on the picket lines at Newcastle University. All main pickets were covered with I would estimate a total of about 80 pickets from 8am onwards. The students were excellent again turning up with banners and marching around the campus chanting their support. There were teach ins on the marketisation of education and on poverty and class in education. In the afternoon and evening we have a social at the Tyneside Irish Centre which should keep the spirits high and then on Wednesday a union general meeting which will hopefully be a mass meeting. La lutte continue.
SOAS University, London - Feyzi Ismail
SOAS staff and students know how to get the message across no matter what the weather throws at them!
Cardiff University - Imogen Serwotka
Bristol University - Jack Hazeldine
What the mass picket lines and activities around them can do if they continue to bring in wider layers of students (and staff), is begin to really drive back the buyer-retailer / consumer-producer / client-manager relationships that have been imposed upon students and staff by the neoliberalisation of university education, and to create simultaneously a sense of the following things...
Of *one* learning community (hopefully one that looks out to the rest of the local area and communities) and of *one* body of co-learners, researchers, teachers de facto concerned for all of each others' conditions, striving collectively to improve these and to drive down the walls that separate university education, facilities and communities from large sections of the population, particularly the wider working class currently engaged in its own struggles against dispossession and marketisation.
I hope we will see mass 'teach outs', debates and cultural activities that engage not just (but importantly) all manner of student concerns and groups, but also Grenfell campaigners, striking rail workers, tenants' unions, school teachers fighting cuts and low paid, precarious workers in the NHS, social care and campus hospitality all demanding better terms.
Lecturers and other staff on USS pensions are rightly receiving all kinds of support in an increasingly intergenerational struggle...
A time to reconsider the 'university'.
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