Strike report - day 1 (Mon 24 Feb) & Teach-Outs

25 February 2020

Despite the damp start, the weather did not dampen spirits on picket lines at UCL yesterday.

Day 1: Brief report

Many departments reported solid turnouts across campus in our latest wave of action over pensions and ‘four fights’ campaigns.

The numbers on the picket lines were comparable to our strikes last year and in 2018. Some  departments were closed and some colleagues have taken the chance to strike at home.

However, given the way that senior management teams are playing a waiting game, we have to strongly encourage colleagues to participate visibly in person! We need the strike to be active and visible. Numbers matter, not just to us, but also to management.

At 11am, a contingent of UCL UCU members took a break from picketing and joined a protest called at short notice to support UCU negotiators at UCEA headquarters in Tavistock Square. We have not heard any news from these talks.

At the strike meeting, colleagues were very clear that this strike is a more serious and determined prospect than the action last term.

We know that action this term will impact our students, unless the employers make the kind of offer that could allow us to halt the strikes.

As one of the negotiators, Vicky Blake, said outside UCEA, “we are not asking for a moon on a stick”. It is not unreasonable to expect all employers to agree to abolish zero hours ‘uber’ contracts. (Essex University has put its PGTAs on employment contracts. Why can’t UCL?) Employers who love league tables are being challenged to explain why they cannot agree to a national benchmark metric for workload or sign up to meaningful equal pay audits.

We’re having to take hard-hitting action to shift our employers. The anti-union laws require a trade union to serve 14 days’ notice of industrial action. This does not mean that we have to take those days. But members are telling us they believe we will need to take the full 14 days of strike action (and are making provision for doing so) because the employers have so far proven themselves prepared to sit out the dispute in the hope that students will blame staff, and staff will be exhausted.

Next steps

We want UCL UCU pickets to remain a visible presence on campus. Please join us today and tomorrow.

Members are encouraged to join pickets between 8am and 12 noon (earlier is better). Many departments have organised rotas and activities on their local picket line. If you have not made local arrangements, please report to the main Gower Street entrance from 7am, where strike materials can also be collected.

At Monday’s strike meeting it was agreed to end each day of picketing with a static protest and photo outside a different UCL building. The first of these will take place today - 12 noon - outside the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, 22 Gordon St, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0QB.

We will start our strike committee meeting today at 12.15 to accommodate this (Imperial Hotel, Russell Square).

Day 2: Teach-Outs plus solidarity assembly

Title: ‘Together for Education’: how do the issues of the strike impact students?
Time: 1-2pm
Venue: Tudor Room, Imperial Hotel, Russell Square.

As they become available we will be sharing details of central and departmental Teach-Outs and social media channels (see below).

UCU London Region: Strike Solidarity Assembly, 6pm, Tudor Room, Imperial Hotel, Russell Square. Confirmed speakers include:

  • John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor
  • Jane Loftus, CWU President
  • Richard Burgon MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice
  • Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary
  • Colleen Johnson, NEU Executive, Disabled Members rep.
  • Howard Beckett, UNITE Assistant General Secretary
  • Ian Hodson, BAFWU President
  • Lesley Kane, Open University UCU branch president
  • Lowkey, rapper

Day 3: March for Education

Picket 8am-12 noon.

March for Education - called by London Region UCU

Assemble 12 noon in Tavistock Square WC1.

Rally outside UCEA/UUK HQ with speakers.

March to the City at 1.30pm.

Post-demo strike meeting in Rich Mix, Shoreditch from 3pm.

UCL UCU Executive Committee