Tag Archives: Trade Unions

My Strike Scrapbook by Lucy Robinson aged 48 1/3 yrs

The UCU strike for USS has been a roller coaster and I don’t really know what it means yet, being a historian and all. But the  strike over pensions and the marketization of universities has changed how I understand  our structures and possibilities and how I feel about work, and how I feel about feeling things about work. (But I will leave the truly brilliant Claire Langhamer to take that one on) Its also changed the way academics in different institutions relate to each other, and filled our lives with Twitter.

I’ve never had an overly easy relationship with Universities, or really with education, but over the last few weeks I’ve never felt so completely at home in academia, or wanted to leave academia so much.

I was ‘invited’ to leave school at 15 and allowed to return to sit some O levels, I got 4, not including History.  My first attempt at A levels at 17 was interrupted by the birth of my first daughter. As a single parent I lived in families of choice whilst I studied.  As an undergraduate I had a team of incredible women who had each others backs. With my incredible friend Vicky, we campaigned about the representation of student motherhood in contraceptive education and over the councils refusal to pay our children’s housing benefit contribution over 52 weeks of the year ( it seemed pretty obvious to us that our babies weren’t actually students).

All my post graduate studies were part-time and unfunded. Structurally it was pretty clear that I wasn’t meant to be there, and certainly that I wasn’t worth investing money in. But on a personal level I was surrounded by lecturers and supervisors who invested in me. I was taught about the value of personal and political investment.  And I guess that’s a trajectory I’ve followed ever since. That came to a clashing contradictory conclusion during the strike. I’ve never loved my colleagues more (and I loved them a lot already), I’ve never felt the possibility of taking back the agenda so closely, and I’ve never wanted to jack the whole thing in so much.

 

We did pickets

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We did culture

Posted by Chip Hamer on Thursday, March 1, 2018

We produced our own songbook. 

Some People (Michael Lawrence) were beyond

 

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We made a zine

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Our Students were incredible

But some of them broke our hearts a little bit,

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We did and got Solidarity

 

 

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Daisy Brought Us Chips

 

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Polpo bought us dinner

 

Some of us had been here before

 

There were fund raisers for the strike fund

The Assistants were there

 

There was a shit storm

 

 

There were some genius moves

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There is a crowd sourced legal challenge to the process 

and a strike fund

 

TBC

With thanks to the UCU Sussex organisers and Poets on the Picket Line

Why consumer rights don’t feel like solidarity

Yesterday we finished the first day of a 14 day action, a financial sacrifice that will be compounded by a 20% pay cut for action short of a strike.  This kept me up at night.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – “Other people’s tactics are not the problem’. So why then was it the support for the strike, rather than any opposition that kept me up at night?

A number of petitions to University management have been circulated by students seeking financial compensation for contact hours lost due to the strike.

I really don’t want to sound ungrateful, and I do not take student support for strike action for granted. So why do I find it so uncomfortable when students demonstrate their support for me through their individual consumer rights? Why doesn’t their consumer pressure for compensation for hours lost in the current strike in defence of our pensions make me feel defended?

Continue reading Why consumer rights don’t feel like solidarity

On Pride

So in keeping with the more recent tone of NTWICH I’m going to start this post with a confession.  I avoided seeing the film Pride for nearly 16 months and only eventually watched it because I had to.

In the end I watched it because Catherine Grant very kindly invited me to speak at an event that she organised with Diarmaid Kelliher, on Pride and its Precursors and I was too honoured, and too embarrassed, to say no. When the film first came out I ducked and dived out of numerous press requests to comment on it. I had toyed with the idea of presenting at the symposium without actually having watched the film, maybe as a sort of thought experiment.   I’d floated the idea over drinks with the talented historian Ben Jones from UEA but lost my confidence after he described some of the scenes I might have missed out on  (the alien invasion and massive shoot out at the end).

Continue reading On Pride

Persons Unknown

Over the past few weeks Class War and LSE’s Lisa Mckenzie in particular have been taking a lot of stick for their choice of target and tactics.  For months Class War and the Women’s Death Brigade have been standing up against the relocation of young teenage mothers by supporting E15 Mums’ campaign, opposing Poor Doors, challenging Gay Pride’s for profit associations with big business and international banking,  and exposing the dodgy deals and marketing of working class women’s bodies for profit at the Jack the Ripper Museum in Cable St.  All pretty straight forward.  Not everyone likes the shouty, irreverent style of the brigade, but its pretty hard to defend kicking out teenage mums, humiliating social housing tenants, censoring gay activists in the name of Pride, or possible shonky negotiations for planning permission.  But then Class War went too far.  They went for the hipster – and the infamous Cereal Killer Café.  Jokes were made on Radio 4 quizzes. Newspapers dug around in activist’s private lives and recreational choices for a few exposes.  Friends of mine argued that these were the wrong targets and the wrong tactics.  I’m not going to get into analysis of cultural capital and bearded entitlement (but honestly doesn’t your face take up enough space already?). But I found it difficult to see the cereal café as the biggest victim in the struggle around austerity.

Fair enough, the other side of that coin is that the bearded cereal sellers might not be your biggest problem either.  In fact you might not have heard about all the grassroots activism that Class War and the Fuck Parade had been doing if they hadn’t annoyed Shoreditch. [disclaimer – I am gluten and lactose free so cereal prices are never going to be my biggest issue]  But the issue of personal taste, and personal tactics really isn’t the problem anymore.  The truth is, it doesn’t matter what your personal political style is.  It doesn’t matter how your particular political form and content sit together.  Because whether you like it or not, whether we like each other’s style or not, we really are all in it together. If we didn’t know that already, the CPS have just made it very clear.

Continue reading Persons Unknown