Posted by: Clare Solomon | March 21, 2011

Support the UCU Strike, are you kidding?

See the And Finally bit at the bottom for reasons why we should support the strike…

There are a number of plans for teachouts, stunts and actions going on over the next few days. Please check with your local union to see what’s happening.

The Universities and Colleges Union have called for strike action on the 22nd and 24th of March.
Their strike is at the heart of a larger struggle against a massive ideological attack on higher education: job losses, department cuts, fee increases, cuts to grants, etc. Their struggle is our struggle. Therefore, we call on the rest of the student body and the wider population to support the strikes.

Here are some things you can do to help (we’re open to suggestions, too):

– DO NOT attend class on the 21st or 24th. If your class is set to go on anyway, show up at the beginning and ask to announce why you will not be staying for the class.
– Email your lecturers in advance, especially those for classes on Mondays and Thursdays. Ask them to reschedule their lectures. Inform them that if they do not, your conscience prevents you crossing a picket line to attend a scab lecture and you will not be doing so.
– Send messages of support to any lecturers who do announce they will be rescheduling classes.
– Email your head of school and ask for a statement on the strike. We will post statements from schools here, as we receive them.
– If one of your lecturers decides to go ahead and scab anyway, go in at the beginning and do a lecture call-out asking students to leave. Then leave. This takes nerve – it might be better to ask a friend to cover yours, and you do theirs.

– Reschedule your classes. This is straight-forward enough. Don’t scab, it’s not a good look.
– Ask your colleagues to do the same.

– Join the lecturers on strike – don’t come in.

– Join the lecturers on the picket lines on the 21st and 24th. Bring tea, coffee and cakes to keep people warm 🙂


And Finally – Support the Strike? – Are you kidding?
But this strike won’t achieve anything
– You’re right. On its own, this strike is not enough – it’s just the start. Yes, it’s difficult to be the first sector to go on strike like this, but others will follow, if we keep it strong and inspire people. A two day strike is difficult, but we can build even more from here

– Students will miss out
You’re right. If we don’t resist the education sector cuts, students are really going to miss out. Many lecturers are worried that striking will adversely affect their students education. But a couple of days of lectures missed is nothing compared to the damage that is being threatened to the education sector right now. If these pension changes go through, we will have: Fewer lecturers, more students, demoralised workforce, less pay, longer hours. This is not a formula for a good education – and it could be happening from September.

– The University management don’t care about what we do
You’re right. Most of the time, management (the financial administrators, with support from business automata on the boards of governors) don’t listen to us at all. A strike is one of the few times that management care at all about what we’re doing. If management cared about our welfare and education, they would be vocally – loudly – standing up to the government, refusing to make cuts, and demanding proper funding for the work we do and the resources we need.

– We should value our jobs and get on with our work
You’re right. We should value what we do – teaching, learning, supporting each other. Management, however, don’t. If they valued us, they wouldn’t be cutting pensions and redundancy money, which prepare their budgets for mass redundancies. If they valued us, they wouldn’t be freezing pay while interest rates increase, vacillating over fees, and obfuscating about cuts. If they valued us, we wouldn’t need to be complaining like this: the University would be loudly complaining as well.

– There’s so much going on in the world – benefit cuts, Japan, Libya – we shouldn’t be complaining
The kind of attacks being levied on the public sector by our government are being borne by the education sector first, with the health sector not far behind. It’s up to us to lead the fightback.
Students have been doing really well – but the academics need to show their courage now. And it’s by being organised, by realising that we can take collective action and stand up to our governments, that we can also move some way to a society which doesn’t constantly teeter on the edge of nuclear disaster and militarism.




  1. A scab is someone who crosses their unions picket line. It is, therefore, not possible for students to be scabs on these strikes.

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