Sutton Bonington Holds Strong: Strike Diary Day 6

Sunrise over Sutton Bonington

Today’s strike diary comes from Matt Green, UoN UCU Branch President

The week is off to a good start. Not only have we heard updates on new talks, not only has social media again been aflame with determined strikers, but also we’ve arrived at the point in the year when traveling to the picket line can take place in daylight hours. The day dawned frosty but bright as I stepped out the front door en route to visit our Sutton Bonington picket line.

Picketing in full view of the sun (shaded by some gorgeous trees)

For those who haven’t been out that way, the picket line at SB is a heartening experience. The picketers are a welcoming bunch. Their good will and cheer is accompanied by resolution and they have a way of cutting to the heart of what’s at stake in the current dispute.

SB West supporting the strike.

Conversation began with one longstanding picketer explaining what he saw as the heart of the four fights dispute. In short, he said that in five years time he wants to be able to offer congratulations rather than commiserations to new entrants to academia. His story, of concern for PhD students seeking to enter the profession of course resonates across disciplines. Such are the obstacles on the way to an open-ended contract, and the challenges facing new entrants to the profession, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to encourage students to pursue dreams of an University career.

Talk then turned to pensions, with picketers expressing concerns over new staff effectively being priced out of the USS by the relentless increases in contribution ratings, a state of play that harms us all.

Sunny on UP North too. Thanks to @Rullsenberg our #runningpicket for this image.

Overall, though, despite the challenges we are facing, the prospect of further talks this week and solid showings on the picket lines give much cause for optimism. We find ourselves at a turning point for Higher Education and while the risks are daunting, success will see genuine change for the better across the sector.

Picketers at Jubilee recorded record highs. What a difference crossing the A52 makes. Thanks @rolsi_journal.

Teach-outs and events this week: March 2 – 5

Monday 2nd March

Crafts for Pickets: Come and learn crocheting, finger knitting, and needle felting to make a variety of crafts for the picket line (intimidating bunting!) and/or for relaxation. No experience is necessary and a variety of materials will be provided.

Talk: ‘Brexit and Citizen Rights’ Narine Ghazaryan, School of Law (talk will begin at 2pm)

1 – 3 pm. Dunkirk Community Centre, Montpelier Road NG7 2JW

Tuesday 3rd March

Talk: ‘The power of statistics: how to spot fake news’ Rosie Smith, School of Education

Talk: ‘Well-being and resilience at work’ Neil Chadborne, School of Medicine

1 -3 pm. Middle Street Resource Centre, 74 Middle Street, Beeston NG9 2AR

Wednesday 4th March

Free yoga: For all stages including beginners. Bring your own yoga mat/there will be 12 provided by the instructor. Class size limit: 20, so first come first served. The session will last 45 minutes.

1 – 2pm, Middle Street Resource Centre, 74 Middle Street, Beeston NG9 2AR

And in the evening…

Music, dancing, and drinks. With special guest UCU secretary Jo Grady. Free, everyone welcome!

7.30pm – late. Vat and Fiddle, 12 Queensbridge Rd, NG2 1NB

Thursday 5th March

Workshop: ‘The Changing Face of Community Education in the East Midlands: Implications for Adult and Higher Education’ Colin Kirkwood, Rob Hunter, Lorinda
Liversidge, John Holford, Linden West

This workshop, organised with Workers’ Educational Association (WEA – East Midlands Region), provides an opportunity to reflect on what our communities need, and what kinds of response is required from the education system – especially from universities, colleges and adult education organisations such as the WEA. Please click on link above for more information.

2 – 4.30pm, Nottingham Mechanics (Lounge), 3 North Sherwood Street, NG1 4EZ