Workers in the UCU and Unison unions at London Metropolitan University struck together yesterday, Thursday, in a row over redundancies.
Bosses at the university want to impose compulsory redundancies that threaten 165 jobs.
The walkout follows a successful 24-hour strike by UCU members last month.
Strikers and supporters rallied at the site of the former Women’s Library at lunchtime and hailed the impact the strike had.
Max Watson is secretary of Unison at London Met. He told Socialist Worker, “The strike shut down the university’s switchboard for the first time in 27 years.
“It usually receives between 700 and 2,000 calls a day. The strike has been solid and I’m really pleased with the turnout.”
Unison striker Claire added, “It’s been heartening. Many people who often stay at home during strikes were on the picket lines today. I’ve been overwhelmed by how solid the strike is.”
Workers plan to take further action – which could include a marking boycott and more strikes.
They are demanding no compulsory redundancies. But some argued that this is only part of the battle.
As UCU striker David put it, “We want no compulsory redundancies but really we want no cuts at all. If people take voluntary redundancies it leaves more work for those left behind.”
He also argued that unions should link up struggles to strengthen the fight. “Let’s fight with the other colleges around the country and let’s win,” he told the rally.
A group of strikers from the National Gallery joined the rally, along with victimised PCS union rep Candy Udwin.
Candy got a great reception when she told the rally, “We haven’t got any choice but to fight. We need to look at how we make sure we get some victories.
“We need national action – so we should call on our unions to call it.”
London Met student Barbara explained why students should get behind the strikes. “This university caters for many women returning to study after having children and many black students,” she told Socialist Worker.
“No other university will have us. And if they get away with these cuts at London Met, who’s to say that five years down the line it won’t happen everywhere?”
The walkout took place on the day the Tories announced a further £900 million cuts to education. Much of it will probably hit further education.
Several colleges across London plan to strike together against the cuts later this month.
Workers should demand their union leaders unite the fights and call the kind of action that can win.