University strikes resume: day 1

The latest wave of strikes for pensions, pay, equality and against casualization and unsafe workloads began today (20 February 2020). We bring you some initial reports.

Photo: John Walker

Scotland –Nicholas Cimini, Mark Napier and Pete Cannell

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland University Lecturers’ Association at five universities joined the strikes for the first time today. Buoyed by the biggest mandate in a generation of the EIS ULA, there were particularly large picket lines at Edinburgh Napier University and University of the West of Scotland. Despite the weather, spirits were very high.

At Edinburgh Napier, our cold and wet day started at 07:30 hrs across the three campuses. Unison members from our professional services and catering staff brought us coffee and biscuits – along with a contribution to our strike fund.  A local resident even came over with a flask, cups and a load of cakes.

The Edinburgh Napier branch also organised a well attended ‘teach out’ with sessions introduced by both staff and students. Two undergraduate students presented their research findings associated with the gender and BME pay gap – two great lecturers in the making.  Attendees at the teach-out also heard statements of support from ENSA (the students union) and local Unison comrades for the strikes.

There was also picketing today at Heriot-Watt, Queen Margaret and the Open University in Scotland office. Edinburgh University, the largest HE institution in the city begins the 14 days of strike action next week.

Oxford – John Walker

All the main area of Oxford University were covered by pickets on the first day. Around a hundred or so strikers and supporters braved the rain at a lunchtime rally.

London –Gus Woody and others

There was a large demo outside Woburn House with a number of UCU London branches. This is the headquarters of the UCEA (University and Colleges Employers Association) and UUK (Universities UK), which represent HE employers.

Staff were also out at University of Arts London Camberwell College, with student support.

Cambridge – Nick Evans and Clément Mouhot

Students were out providing a welcome breakfast round to picketers across Cambridge this morning. The focus for today was the strike manifesto Why We Must Strike Now that the Cambridge UCU branch has produced.

Tomorrow strikers will be linking up with climate activists XR Cambridge and XR Youth Cambridge who are currently drawing attention to the failure of the Cambridge University and its constituent colleges to divest from fossil fuels. Trinity College, which is the richest college and has helped undermine the USS pensions scheme, was a particular target for XR earlier this week.

Join the pickets! See the full list of striking institutions here (UCU) and here (EIS). Donate to the UCU and EIS hardship funds/solidarity levies. Keep sending your reports to rs21editorial@gmail.com

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