This week our branch continued with a really strong showing on the pickets, and had some a major success that made national news. It has been quite an inspiring week (and previous 3 months) to be part of City UCU, particularly since we are in the 3rd week of action, and there has been a bit of strike fatigue.
We’ve seen our membership numbers have a rapid growth, with nearly 100 new members in the past 5 weeks. Each day there have been new faces on the picket lines, with members making friends across departments and schools, something that the university seems to really struggle to do. The atmosphere has been warm and friendly (dispute the cold, snow, rain, and savage winds) something that can be seen on our branch twitter https://twitter.com/cityucu, on the USS hashtags https://twitter.com/hashtag/strikeforuss, and across the country on UCU’s twitter https://twitter.com/ucu.
Fresh from a weekend of rest (hopefully because members were keeping to ASOS and keeping the weekends for themselves rather than for work) we kicked off on Monday with a strong united set of pickets, including a few pooches on the picket, followed by a fully vegan lunch in the Blacksmith & Toffemaker (https://www.theblacksmithandthetoffeemaker.co.uk/) provided by the branch. We had a quick branch meeting where we discussed ideas for the escalating of action, which the committee then reported by to HQ. In the evening Rebecca and I then went to Finsbury Park Mosque to speak at the Stand up to Racism event (http://www.standuptoracism.org.uk/), where they very kindly did a collection and gave us donation to the hardship fund. For those interested there is a national demo on Saturday 17 March (details http://www.standuptoracism.org.uk/march-racism-un-anti-racism-day-saturday-17-march-2018/).
Tuesday saw Vince Cable refuse to cross the picket to attend an event at Cass Business School after some quick mobilisation from members who tweeted him directly, while a small group were poised at Bunhill Row ready to hand him strike materials if he did still cross. This was all kept hush hush to ensure management didn’t get wind of our plans and change venues last minute, and it was thanks our members quick fingers that he cancelled, and it even got a mention in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/06/oxford-university-blocks-challenge-to-staff-pension-cuts-proposals-universities-strike. That afternoon we returned to the Sekforde Arms for our Second Teach-Out, organised by Dr Claire Marris (Senior Lecturer, Centre for Food Policy), where we sheltered from the cold, learnt about festival Welfare and drug policy, Brexit and the impact on food, resistance and global justice, surveillance of education, food sovereignty in the Czech Republic and art to encourage social change, and had our Regional Officer give a rousing speech about UUK being on the back foot.
Wednesday afternoon there was poster making in preparation for the Women’s Strike event on Thursday, and the Three Corners community centre near Spa Fields kindly let a few members use the venue for free. http://www.3corners.org.uk/
Thursday saw Dr Grietje Baars (Lecturer, City Law School) organise a Teach Out themed around International Women’s Day with topics on intersectionality, Mothers behaving badly, Social Media as a tool for feminist action, and on the Yarl’s Wood hunger strike. The group then walked to Myddelton Street Building to picket an IWD event that was still taking place before marching on to Russel Square to join the Women Strike demo https://womenstrike.org.uk/.
It has been really refreshing and inspiring seeing the branch not only become more active, but also more political in its action. There is definitely a change in the air, and other Trade Unions are really inspired by UCU’s action, particularly after the aggressive Trade Union Bill. We can, and we will win. ONWARD TO VICTORY COMRADES.
Martin Chivers, Branch Secretary
What you can do to help
- Find out more https://www.ucu.org.uk/why-we-are-taking-action-over-USS
- Come join us on the picket lines March 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16. Student support is welcome.
- Come talk and learn at our free Teach-Outs (Monday 12 at 12:00 in the Toffeemaker, or @cityucu)
- Contact City President, Professor Sir Paul Curran, and tell him that you support the UCU action and want to him to call on UUK to reach a compromise: Curran@city.ac.uk
- Tweet your support: #USSstrike #UCUstrike @cityUCU @CityUniLondon @CityUniSU
- Contact your MP and ask them to campaign for the government to protect and support our USS pensions. ucu.org.uk/USS-emailyourMP
- If you can afford it please donate to: UCU City LA14 Hardship Fund, 60-83-01, 20324559