The Front Line
UCU strikes over changes to USS pensions have taken places at 61 universities this week, starting on Thursday morning. Today marked the end of the first of four weeks of planned industrial action. The average academic is set to lose £10,000 a year in the changes to the pension scheme. Here is our report on the first week of strike action at Royal Holloway.
Thursday’s strike saw a large turnout of lecturers from several departments that contributed to the atmosphere of the entire event. The strike leader, a designated representative of the UCU donning a high-visibility jacket and coordinating the picket line, was quick to discuss the picketing situation with security guards from Royal Holloway. The security guards cited an official law that stated only six people can picket at one time if they are contributing to an intimidating and threatening environment. As our Twitter reporting highlights, both the academics picketing and the students demonstrating were quiet and respectful during the breakfast picket.
However, security guards were quick to explain that due to Royal Holloway’s entrance being situated on the A30, picketers were required to move inside the college grounds, which is unusual for a picket line, which would normally be outside an entrance. Thus, due to the strikers picketing around the Founder’s Building, they enacted the law “just in case”. There was a lot of contention around this point from both staff and students, as security claimed that only six picketers could be around the entire of Founder’s Building, not just one picket line.
Picketers carried UCU signs and handed out flyers to passers-by. Meanwhile, students in support of the strike demonstrated nearby but were required to keep a physical distance from staff. Students also brought homemade signs that had slogans such as “Students Support Strikes” and “What the F-UUK” and urged other students to join them in demonstrating their support.