Socialist Worker

‘Tremendous’ mood on picket lines as more groups join action

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2593

The picket line at UCL on the second day of the strike

The picket line at UCL on the second day of the strike (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Hundreds of striking university workers and students held a noisy rally outside Universities UK (UUK) offices in central London on Monday.

Protesters chanted, “Say hey, say ho—UUK has got to go,” and students let off flares.

One banner read, “Pensions not pornstars”—a reference to a vice chancellor’s expense claim for a “pornstar martini”.

A group of students at UCL began an occupation in support of the strike on Tuesday.

Alex, a striker at King’s, told Socialist Worker, “The atmosphere on the picket lines was tremendous. In the past it’s been easy for the employers to split students and staff. But now we’ve got lots of student support.”

University College London (UCL) striker Sonia was one of many who said pensions was only one of the issues angering workers. “Universities are becoming corporations,” she told Socialist Worker. “Education is becoming an asset, not a public good.”

Thousands of people have joined the union to take part in the action.

Inspire

The strikes have shown how hard-hitting, sustained action can inspire workers to get involved.

Several strikers said they felt the escalating strikes would have a bigger impact than 24-hour walkouts.

It shows that, if other unions called similar action, it could have a huge impact.

Many new strikers were picketing at UCL. One told Socialist Worker, “We have targets to meet to bring in money to the university, but where is that money going? It’s going to vice chancellors.

NEU union member Wendy visited a “lively picket line” at the University of Hull to show solidarity.

She told Socialist Worker, “There were strikers and students on all gates on Monday’s picket lines. New staff and student supporters are joining.”

Mike is vice president of the UCU there.

He said workers would “stick it out” for all of the 14 planned strike days.

“Strikes are criticised for not making a difference but you only have to be on the picket line for five minutes to see the solidarity.

“It took only two days of strikes to bring employers to the table.”


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