SCHOOL’S OUT! Picket lines are going to be forming outside your lecture halls. The Tab brings you the latest.


Good morning! You’re probably still fast asleep but we at The Tab are here, covering the Strike. In case you totally missed this, a little context: University staff are striking over an effective 13% pay cut over the last four years. More background here.

Check back here all day for live updates, pictures and videos of the University strike!

Harry Shukman and Alex Davis are at Sidgwick, Josh Simons at New Museums site and Downing, and Heather Mckay is outside the Senate House. Max Toomey is on the blog.

13:13 *Update* Remember Arsalan Ghani speaking? The man accused by TCS of ‘criminal incompetence‘, who had a vote of no confidence levied against him, was only allowed to speak because the organisers had a slot to fill and didn’t know who he was.

12:46 The Tab would like to make it clear that Conrad did in fact have two lectures today that he wanted to attend. We apologise for suggesting that he had no lectures. We would also like to clarify that he did not ‘come up’ to a Tab reporter to give another quote. The reporter was already standing near him and asked him for one.

12:37 – “Game, set, match” says Josh

An announcement is made ‘At 1.30, the BBC would like to do some filming, so you can all get some lunch then come back.’ The crowd laughs, we’re not sure if they’re serious or not…

12:35 – The last speaker is up, Maddy:

“We are the university”

There would be no university without us”

Huge cheers from the crowd in response.

Chanting starts again “They say cut back, we say fight back”

12:30 Arsalan Ghani, the CUSU graduate representative who received a vote of no confidence is speaking.

“We deserve better than this” he tells the crowd.

‘He opens his eyes widely at the start of every sentence to punctuate them’ says Heather.

12:27 The guy on the bike is a lectuter. He’s gotten off the bike:

“You’ve got freedom of assembly I’ve got freedom to object.” he tells the crowd

Responses: “Fuck off”, “Nob”, “Go home!”

12:25 – Boos from the crowd as someone tries to power through on a bike.

12:23 – Representative from the National Union of Teachers up next, promising national action on February 13th.Numbers in the crowd seem bigger at least 200

“Numbers in the crowd seem bigger, at least 200” reports Harry.

Overheard by Heather ‘Socialists have good hair.’ Your thoughts, Tab readers?

12:18 – The Firefighters’ Union representative, Cameron Mathews, speaks next announcing himself with “Brothers and Sisters!”

“By taking a stand you’ve truly inspired many people.”

“You inspire a generation of new people.”

“Fight to champion fairness.”

“It is truly scandalous [the pay cut]”

“We rescue people, not banks”

It seems that the pay cuts are a spark for a protest on much wider issues.

He’s a very good speaker:

The Firefighters’ representative

12:16 – Next up a Labour Councillor:

Someone yells out, as the labour speaker talks, ‘Labour shouldn’t be here. Labour have done nothing. What are you’d doing thing?’ The speaker glances up at him then carries on.

12:11 – ‘Mordechai’ speaking next (we’re trying for a surname):

Holding speech paper over a copy of the socialist appeal newspaper he talks about the wider issues

“Wider attack on education in Britain”

“Struggle by staff for equal pay concerns students”

“Link to attacks on NHS welfare state disabled unemployed.”

“£750 billion privately owned”

“Profit of small handful of people who control it.”

“This situation is a result of the capitalist system.”

“Exponential growth of inequality.”

Applause and cry of ‘fuck yeah’

“Socialism is the only solution” he goes on. Silence. Crowd doesn’t cheer.

Councillor George Owers tells Harry: ‘I don’t agree. I don’t agree with the sectarianism of this events’

12:09 Harry reports on Andy Murray’s speech:

“We are here to protect education” Mentions high turn out.

“Look at how universities are funded- student fees”

He’s shaking quite a lot. Really he’s quaking.

Josh sees a cab go through the crowd:

Cambridge ‘Dial a ride’ barges through

Crowd has to split to let it pass, various members of the crowd go’Oh come on’

Someone yells: ‘Its for disabled people you prick’

12:04 Josh reports “Student cycles past as speeches begin, I shout asking him what he thinks. Response: ‘oh no'”

Heather: “Little boy in front of me is blowing raspberries. Copious raspberries.”

12:03 Anne Alexander is making the first speech 

“Fantastic turnout” she says, “We are not alone in striking.”

“We’ve seen firefighters on strike action, postal workers”

11:57 – The numbers are growing every minute, Alex reports, about 150 people so far

And the ARU have just joined them:


11:53 – They’re outside Kings reports Josh:

11:45 – Here’s what the march looks like, numbers seem to be growing:

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11:40 – The march is heading into town, photo from Harry, video to follow:

11:35 – Strikers are marching towards the Senate House chanting ‘They say cut back we say fight back. Cut cut back. Fight fight back’ and ‘The people united will never be defeated’

Meanwhile, there seems to be more students supporting the strike than many may have thought (if our poll on the front page is anything to go by) – Heather‘s lecture seems pretty bare:


“It’s just me and the keen-os”

11:30 – Sidgwick picket is on the move, reports Alex, they’re heading down towards the rally outside of Senate House. Here’s a photo of sympathetic members of the public giving a picketer a snack:


11:16 –  still seems some people aren’t crossing the picket lines, including those from Cambridge Hub

It’s getting cold out there…

11:08 – Doesn’t seem many people are respecting the picket…

11:04 – Alex snapped this Halloween related sign:

10:56 – It all seems pretty quiet, going to make a coffee quickly before the next set of lectures start at 11am…

10:37 – Seems Cambridge City Council is split on the issue of strikes. Here’s a video of a stand off between picketers and Lib Dem Councillor and POLIS lecturer, Julie Smith:

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Here’s how one picketer sees it:

Here’s a photo of the picketers as of now:

It seems like this is the only picket line in Cambridge with numbers, all the others have remained small.

10:32 There are around 30 people now picketing at Sidgwick, according to Alex. Interviews editor, Beth Swords, is at Downing site where ‘All Hell has been let loose’:

Won’t someone stop this madness?!

10:29 – Alex: Spoke to a few of the foreign students. There’s an Austrian here who’s engaged in similar strikes in Vienna. She despairs a little that “it is hard to do anything with so few numbers’

Protestor Dianne: ‘This isn’t just about pay but the further of education. “This is not a selfish strike.’ She says ‘Students need to realise the impact of these cuts on them in the future.’

10:14 – Justin, the student who got slapped, explains the rationale for physically blocking students (which is a bit illegal): “We are being antagonistic” he says.

10:10 – Alex: ‘Another scuffle’s broken out, students are being stopped from going through the picket line, they are blocking people quite adamantly and telling them to use a side entrance, is that legal?’

I’m not sure it is actually…

10:03 – A fight broke out! Reports Alex. A guy felt he was being held up by the picketers and punched one of them in the face. Here’s a photo just moments before:

The guy who got slapped is called Justin. He’s not very happy about it.

9:58 ‘They [the University staff] are taking a huge pay cut of 13%.’ says Conrad, ‘Lecturers are making a huge sacrifice for the university’

‘Crossing the picket line undermines the strike’ Conrad bemoans. Well yes, thank you Conrad, hadn’t thought about it like that.

9:55 – Our reporter Alex Davis has arrived at Sidgwick:

Numbers here haven’t changed. Roughly two people joining the main picket on grange road every 20 mins.

Brian, one of the picketers was at the very first Cambridge strike in 1970, about technicians and their pay.

“People can’t keep losing pay with increases in price, for example for energy” he says “People should stand up for what’s right”

9:51 – Seems Anglia Ruskin has students more committed to the cause…

via @DavidIanSkinner

9:41 It appears that the everyone on the ground for the first shift has gone off to lectures supervisions and the second shift, still hung over from last night, hasn’t turned up yet… Anyone out there want to update me? Send us a tweet, @tabcambridge

9:37 An English lecturer called Andrew tells The Tab ‘I’m here in solidarity with my fellow lecturers. I cancelled classes.’

9:31 Overheard by Heather: ‘Its a very Cambridge strike this. People in gowns, students on bikes, and deep intellectual debate about the history of the church’s various artefacts.’

Josh at Downing site is also scabbing and going to a supervision. He leaves us with this update:

Topic of conversation has now moved to New Zealand’s rugby domination

‘Yea, but did you see when they sung in parliament after the gay marriage bill passed? That was wicked. It made me cry.’

Someone should be along to replace him any minute now…

9: 27 – The girl who told Harry ‘fuck you’ turns out isn’t a student or a University staff member:

‘I don’t care about the strike,’ she says ‘I just like to strike. I’m here on vacation’

9:25  Our own Heather Mckay is joining the scabs! She has a lecture at 9:30 at Mill lane: ‘I haven’t been to a lecture all week. I may reverse protest by going.’

9:22 We’re estimating that about 95% of students are crossing the picket lines. I, for one, am staying in bed in solidarity.

9:14 – Josh is doing a good deed: ‘Just gone to buy a couple of students solidarity tea. I badly needed an expresso myself.’

Harry is outside the UL ;‘The universities plead poverty but they made a surplus of 1.1 bn last year’ says Richard Johnson, Unison and Cambridge City council member.

9:07 – Sidgwick:

A girl cycles up to the picket. Conrad (CDE) tells her that Conrad the libraries were closed and lectures were cancelled and she bikes away. That’s a rather large lie…

9:04 – Cambridge Defend Education’s Conrad is at Sidgwick. He tells The Tab: ‘I’ve got a lecture but I decided to make a sacrifice and come out in solidarity with my lecturers’

‘You’re undermining the strike!’ Conrad shouts at every student who crosses the picket, and there are a lot of them doing just that.


This is what Senate House looks like now:

Protesters outside are joking about looting Ryder and Amies: ‘Only in Cambridge could you steal a selection of gowns’

On the count of three everyone say ‘Picket!’


Josh – **ALERT**. Dilemma in New Museums site, Pembroke road: three strikers. One needs a coffee, one needs the loo (he’s informed me he didn’t have time for his morning dump) and the other to pick up some leaflets. Who does what, where and when?

8:55 – Harry at Sidgwick

Student crosses picket line. Protester: ‘You should be ashamed!

Me: Why should he be ashamed?

Protester (To me) ‘YOU!  should be ashamed! Fuck you!’


Josh at New Museums site –

A medic from Caius, trousers three inches too short’: ‘can I join you guys?’

Protester Frank:  ‘Sure, we’d be glad to have some solidarity with our cause’

Medic: ‘Cool. This is gonna be fun. I’m gonna tweet. I’ll probably have to go soon, I’ve got quite a lot of lab work to do.’

Heather at Senate House –

Me: ‘Are you worried about the strike at all?’

Random policeman: ‘No. I’m more frightened of these cyclists!’ (He was trying to cross the road)

Heather: There are currently more police than picketers


Harry – ‘You’re undermining the picket!’ a student shouts, ‘Don’t go in you’ll regret it! You’ll regret it in ten years time when there’s no university!’

Heather – ‘Higher ed accrues £11 billionn nationwide’ Gerard, who teaches Phd students transferable skills tells me ‘And £10 billion of that’s Trinity’ he jokes.


Josh at New Museums – ‘I’m relieved the caff round the corner is open’ says Frank from Unite.

Harry at Sidgwick – A student walks up to the entrance

‘Do you wanna think about not going to your lectures?’

Rah girl ‘Um no why would I do that I’ve got so much work today’

‘Thats a pretty lame excuse’ comes the picketer’s reply



What a way to spend Halloween…



At the Senate house site support is small. ‘We’re not being too militant about it’ says on picketer.


‘So is this a picket line?’ I ask

‘Yea, we’re persuading those not with Unite to strike’,

‘But the main entrance on the other side is empty’. They’ve now divided the 5 strikers two and three. I’ve been told to expect 1000 people to march on Senate House later today.

She did say they were expecting over 1000 for senate house march



Seems New Museums has a couple more picketers:

Harry Shukman:

Two coppers at Sidgwick: ‘Expecting a bit turnout?’ one asks a student striker

‘Thousands’ comes the reply


Josh is at Downing where there are three picketers:

‘It’s a balmy bloody day for October if you ask me’ – one of three strikers outside Downing.

‘What are they called? No hours contracts’ (him)

‘You mean zero hours contracts?’ (Me) ‘

Yea. Well we think they’re not good’ (him)

8:10 – Josh Simons reports:

Two policeman walked through New Museums site, discussing Ipswich FC’s promotion chances this year. One man, says he’s a cleaner, is walking out of the site: “All  know is the toilet is blocked by psychology. Someone’s gotta sort it out.” he tells The Tab.

8:07 – Owen Holland, the man sent down from Cambridge for 30 months for invading a talk and reading his own poetry is down at Sidgwick:

Harry Shukman reports:

“Owen Holland’s chanting ‘Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh we will fight and we will win’ and ‘we need the poetry of the future’

Two bikers go straight through the picket without pausing as Owen and Joey politely ask if they want a leaflet with all the charisma of magikarp”

It appears they’re ready for a lot of picketers to turn up:


But there’s not a ton of people…


8:00 – Josh Simons at Downing reports is still pretty silent:

7:40 –  Hary at Sidgwick is there with Owen Holland. “Well try to persuade people not to cross the picket line” he’s told.

7:30 – Harry Shukman is down at  West Road, there aren’t exactly loads of people yet… but as you’d image there isn’t much to picket anyway…

Here’s a photo os Sidgewick as of 7:25

CUSU is standing behind the picketers, here’s their poster in support: