Strikers at London Metropolitan University have won huge support from trade unionists, students and others, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
UCU union members struck on Thursday of last week. They are fighting job cuts, attacks on conditions and the victimisation of union reps David Hardman and Mark Campbell.
The next step for many strikers is for the national union to begin greylisting, or a boycott, of London Met.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt told a rally that the union would support David and Mark “all the way”.
She added, “What is happening now can be reversed. I have every confidence in this branch.”
Mark told the rally, “We need the national union to step in. I believe there will be a unanimous decision to greylist this university unless management back down.”
Strikers told Socialist Worker of the dire situation at London Met. “It’s chaos,” said one striker. “Reappointments of staff in some subject areas weren’t finalised until induction week. Students were turning up and we didn’t know who was still employed.
“Some course leaders found out about their positions when it was announced to students.”
Many strikers were afraid to be named, citing a “culture of bullying”.
Bosses are imposing nearly 400 redundancies and are attacking conditions.
One picket explained, “My teaching timetable last year was 100 percent full. This year I was told the same workload was 73 percent.”
David Hardman explained that some workers “are expected to teach subjects they have no experience in”.
Student Harley said the university seemed “in a permanent state of change”. “None of it is about education,” he added.
Lecturers face lesson observations for the first time and could even have lectures recorded. Workers must support the university’s “values”, such as “one community, one campus”.
“That means you have to agree with them selling off loads of buildings,” said one striker.
A sustained national campaign, including a greylist, would boost workers’ confidence to take further action. Workers can beat the bosses.
Sandy Nicoll, Unison union branch secretary at the School of Oriental and African Studies, joined pickets to show solidarity.
He told Socialist Worker, “When I was victimised last year, we had a victory after workers took unofficial action. It showed we can win. The UCU needs to step up its action.”
Mandy Brown, a member of the UCU national executive committee, spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity. “London Met is a test of how much bosses can get away with,” she said.
“The national union needs to make this a dispute of national significance.”