Yesterday, 22nd March 2011, was the first day of strike action by members of the University and College Union in England including lecturers, researchers, admin and library staff from 47 universities taking strike action in defence of their USS pension scheme. Strikes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland took place last Thursday & Friday, and yesterday.
Picket lines were formed at all entrances of the University of Nottingham. A joint staff/student campaign leaflet was handed out (Download student side of leaflet. UCU staff side of leaflet) as well as information about the effects of the proposed changes to the pensions scheme that would see new staff (and those with a gap in employment or extended leave) being put on to a much worse scheme, plus increases in employee contributions for everyone with little evidence that this is needed. The threat of action and offer of negotiations by UCU has already seen the gap increased to 30 months from 6 months plus there is now an indefinite delay in implementation. Many people in vehicles passing the entrances honked their horns in support including both City and County Council workers, Post Office workers, bus drivers, taxi drivers and many people in vans of private companies and cars. Security staff at entrances were supportive. The student support was particularly excellent, with groups from Nottingham Students Against Cuts and Fees present at the picket lines and saying on their website,
WE, NOTTINGHAM STUDENTS AGAINST FEES & CUTS, EXPRESS OUR STAUNCH SUPPORT FOR AND SOLIDARITY WITH THE UCU of Nottingham University / NTU and the UCU groups on strike nationwide. We stand with staff members in their attempt to defend their pension schemes from the cuts that are being imposed and which will have a drastic detrimental effect on the education sector and thus society as a whole. These cuts affect our community, students and staff alike, as they threaten not only jobs but educational establishments, irreparably damaging the overall value and quality of education. Read more: http://nsafc.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/notts-students-support-ucu-strike/
Today, Wednesday 23rd, NSAFC will hold a ‘Teach-out’ with tents outside Hallward Library on the University of Nottiongam main campus from 12 noon and all afternoon to highlight the campaign against marketisation of education, cuts to teaching budgets and to support the UCU strikes. Notts TUC are holding a Budget Day protest against all cuts from 5-7pm in the Old Market Square, Nottingham.
On Thursday 24th there will be a UK-wide strike day involving both University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University and Further Education colleges. Picket lines will be formed in the morning and there will be a rally in defence of education in the Old Market Square , Nottingham from 11am at least until 2pm. All welcome. Details here: http://nottssos.org.uk/2011/03/16/university-and-college-strikes-next-week-including-nottingham-city-centre-demo-on-24th-march-2011/. Then at 3.30pm will be the ESOL day of action against cuts to English for Speakers of Other Languages – this open air meeting will also take place in the Old Market Square. Download flyer: ESOL Day of Action flyer 24 March 2011. Help us show the importance of English classes.
The campaign is growing and this is becoming more than solidarity. The struggle of students against huge fees rises and cuts to support like ESA is identified with the cuts agenda and the general attack on wages and conditions in education work places. There are a number of unions in universities and colleges such as Unison and UNITE and hopefully the struggle can be broadened in the coming months. The Notts SOS campaigns aims to link up service users and community campaigns as well as workplaces, schools and colleges. The UCU is taking 3 coaches from Nottingham to London for the ‘March for the Alternative’ on Saturday 26th as are many other unions.