UCU Strikes Back: Day 2

A show of solidarity on South Entrance with Lillian Greenwood MP

Tuesday 26th November

Today’s diary entry comes from Lila Matsumoto, one of our UoN Branch Equalities Officers:

I arrived 7.30am at South Entrance picket as the sky was starting to get light. The weather was predicted for rain but spirits were high among the picketers. We had maracas, a cowbell, a bike horn, and other noise makers; homemade treats were passed around; someone brought a canteen of tea. Motorists, lorry drivers, tram drivers, bus drivers, and motorcyclists honking/beeping in solidarity raised spirits. Lillian Greenwood MP for Nottingham South came to visit, and members from Nottingham Trades Union Council came to support us and to hand out information leaflets and hold up signs: ‘Nottingham staff and students stand together’; ‘Support our staff, Support the strike, Support the future’.

UP West

At 10.30am I visited the West Entrance, which was completely abuzz with picketers, music (a picket rave!), and lots of supporting students spreading information about the strike and encouraging passing students to register to vote. I participated in a collective reading of revolutionary poetry, in memory of poet and activist Sean Bonney who died recently. There were some very moving and energizing poems by Sean read out loud. My reading ended with the phrase: ‘Occupy the future’.

Student supporters at UP South

At 1pm I headed to the teach-out. There were two wonderful sessions: the first a feminist history of strike action, covering such strikes such as the 1910 Chicago garment worker’s strike, and the late 1970s Grunwick dispute led by Jayaben Desai, leading striking workers who were mostly female, immigrant, and East African or Asian. The second session was on student well being and the economic hardship faced by students, many who are forced to take unsustainable loan packages. It challenged my own assumptions about student experience and how their challenges relate to mine as a worker at the university.

Rita Hordosy talking about student experience and #UniLifeHacks

At 2pm there was a ‘picket line dancing class’ in which I sacrificed my dignity for collective dance solidarity – and it was actually a lot of fun.