Report from the #FeministPickets

Last week we republished the call from Women’s Strike Assembly for feminists to link up with the current higher education strikesrs21 members report from the #FeministPickets on 9 March 2020.

#FeministPicket. University of Edinburgh, 9 March 2020. Photo: Eileen Cook.

Workers, currently on strike at 74 universities across the UK, formed feminist pickets today. Yesterday (Sunday 8 March) was International Women’s Day, a day which has its origins in revolutionary working class struggle.

#FeministPicket at the University of Manchester, 9 March 2020. Photo: Ian Allinson

One of the reasons higher education workers have been out on strike over the past four weeks has been the appalling gender pay gap: women in UK universities are paid on average 15.9% less per hour than their male colleagues. At the University of Edinburgh, it’s even worse:

17 % gender pay gap, University of Edinburgh. Photo: Eileen Cook

And worse still at the University of Cambridge:

19.7% pay gap at Cambridge University. Photo: Nick Evans

At the University of Manchester, UCU Equalities Officer Wendy Olsen talked about the ways institutions have attempted to get round fixing the pay gap:

As speakers at the rallies in Manchester, Cambridge, and elsewhere made clear: the #FeministPickets were about linking the struggles over pay, pensions, job security, equality pay gaps and unsustainable workloads in higher education to international feminist rebellion.

Strikers spoke out against the unequal way the burden of care work falls according to gender and race, and institutions that fail to support women (both cis and trans) when they speak out against sexual harassment and violence in their places of work and study.

The rallies on pickets today followed on a weekend of action around the world. On International Women’s Day (Sunday 8 March), a mass feminist action joined sex workers striking to demand decriminalisation and an end to harassment by police and immigration enforcement.

Support the education strikes

  • Read our analysis of the latest developments in the higher education strikes. 
  • Organise collections and workplace visits. Most of the strikes are on 20, 21, 24, 25, 26 February and 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 March but there is local variation – check for each striking institution here (UCU) and here (EIS). 

    We have published a collection sheet for the UCU strikers. It is best to take money directly to pickets or donate to local strike funds if you can. Otherwise you can contribute to the UCU national strike fund online via Account: ‘UCU Fighting Fund’, sort code: 60-83-01, account: 20179432, reference: ‘Fighting Fund Voluntary Levy’; or send a cheque payable to ‘University and College Union’ to Fighting Fund donation, Finance Department, UCU, Carlow Street, London, NW1 7LH. You can donate to the EIS strike fund online via account Name ‘EIS’, sort code: 60 83 01, account: 20315704, reference ‘ULA Levy’. 

    For more information see the UCU or EIS websites, @ucu or @EISUnion on twitter, or local union branches. 

  • Tomorrow Tuesday 10 March striking university workers will join together with sixth form college workers. NEU members in 34 Sixth Form Colleges are taking their 6th day of strike action this Tuesday over funding and pay. Read here for more information about the issues faced by striking sixth form college workers. 

    A list of the colleges striking is here.

 

 

 

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