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Bristol UCU picket line

Bristol UCU picket line. Photo: Naz Massoumi

University workers are back on the picket lines for a second round of strike action to fight against pay and pension cuts, casualisation and inequality

University of Glasgow - Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

On Monday 14 February, we started another round in our long battle against cuts that will see us lose 35% of our pensions in retirement wage.

It was the first of 10 days of strike action over three weeks, which will also see us out over pay, pay inequalities, conditions, and casualisation.

Over 150 turned out to our mass picket line at the Main Gate of the University of Glasgow. This is smaller than our usual turnout, but it is also the week of school holidays.

The weather was uncharacteristically dry and sunny, which helped turn the mood not just resolute but also positively jovial.

There were some high profile visits and speeches from the General Secretary Jo Grady, former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, and a representative of the Student Solidarity Collective.

We then made our way to a Scotland rally in central Glasgow. There, we listened to speeches from other union branches striking in Scotland, as well as student representatives and an official of the STUC.

There was much anger about proposed cuts and speeches did well when articulating those in broader terms about how higher education has been marketised.

But among folk on the picket line, there was also discussion of other topics, from the cost of living crisis to worry about what war over Ukraine might do to livelihoods.

There is also a palpable sense that we will need to escalate the fight further to win our demands, and begin to wrest control back from haughty managements who do not care about education but about raking it in.

Photo: Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

Photo: Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

Photo: Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

University of Bristol - Naz Massoumi

There was a fun, energetic and vibrant mood across the picket lines, gathering outside 18 different locations across the University of Bristol campus today. In the lead up to the strike, the senior management team had used scare tactics to dissuade staff taking action including the threat of 100% pay deductions for ASOS but this failed to dissuade hundreds from taking part.

Following the pickets, staff and students gathered for a rally outside the Victoria Rooms before marching down to College Green. Anna, a student organising teach-outs, spoke passionately in support of the strike: "we want well-paid, well-rested staff who can look forward to a decent pension". 

There was a strong sense of anger against university management and the importance of resisting the marketisation of education; to build the kind of higher education that we need and deserve. As one of the strikers Vicky Canning put it: we, the staff and students, are the university.

Photo: Naz Massoumi

Photo: Naz Massoumi

Birkbeck, University of London - Floyd Codlin

I was at Birkbeck tonight and can tell you that many students at Birkbeck university support the lecturers. I believe it’s the same at Soas, and other universities. The mood on picket lines were up beat and positive.

We had great speakers at the rally, such as the NUS President, UVW strikers from GOSH, Steven Ellis from Unison, PCS Culture, Chip Hamer, and John McDonnell. This is the start of two weeks of action over the 4 fights and pensions.

Teaching Conditions are Working Conditions.

Photo: Floyd Codlin

Photo: Floyd Codlin

Photo: Floyd Codlin

Goldsmiths, University of London - Counterfire

UCU members at Goldsmiths are already in their second period of strike action in response to job cuts and a disastrous restructure designed by KPMG. Today we joined the national action for seven further days of strikes before (hopefully) seeing our colleagues from Goldsmiths Unison join us for another five days of strikes at the end of the month.

This means that Goldsmiths members are taking action against redundancies, fire and rehire policies, pensions cuts, a pay freeze, deteriorating working conditions and more - please join us on the picket line, details on our website.

Photo: Counterfire

Photo: Feyzi Ismail

Newcastle University - Graham Kirkwood

There was a good start to the strike action today as Newcastle University UCU joined the national action over unjust cuts to our USS pensions. Newcastle University was one of the UCU branches which had to reballot after failing to make the cut in the first round. Despite dire weather, there was a strong showing from pickets this morning and an excellent rally in town after, with support from PCS, Unison, CWU and FBU as well as Durham University UCU. Next week the strikes broaden as we join with our sisters and brothers from Northumbria UCU branch and beyond in the campaign over pay and conditions.

Tomorrow we will be joined on the picket lines by Ian Lavery, Labour MP for Wansbeck and Vicky Blake, UCU President.

Photo: Graham Kirkwood

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