Red October: Strike Round-Up

Speeches, socialism, and a slapping at the Halloween Higher Education strikes


University unions UCU, Unite, and Unison joined forces with CUSU and Cambridge Defend Education to strike against an effective pay cut of 13% over the last five years.

Picket lines were formed at the UL, Sidgwick, Downing, and New Museums sites from 7:30AM that marched on Senate House protest at midday yesterday.

 

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Student protestors made up the backbone of picket-lines that blocked people from entering the Sidgwick Site.

A fight broke out at one point as picketer Justin was slapped by a student for physically blocking him from coming in. Justin later admitted that he was deliberately ‘being antagonistic’.

Other strikers told students that they were ‘undermining the strike’ by crossing the pickets and one claimed that all libraries were closed and lectures cancelled.

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Though a few were persuaded, Tab reporters noticed that the vast majority of students crossed the picket lines to attend their classes.

Protestor Owen Holland, who was rusticated from the uni for 30 months for interrupting David Willett’s speech, was there from the start and chanted ‘Ho, Ho, Ho, Chi Minh, we will fight and we will win’.

The Sidgwick picket also attracted an Austrian foreign student that shouted ‘you should be ashamed’ at students as they came into morning lectures.

The protestor, who did not disclose her name later said ‘I don’t care about the strike. I just like to strike.’

She later added ‘fuck you’ to The Tab.

Students outnumbered union officials and uni strikers. Apparently the only teacher present at Sidgwick was Dr Drew Milne, of the English Faculty. He said that he had cancelled classes and was out in solidarity with his fellow lecturers.

The pickets quietened down till around 11:30 when they made a move to King’s Parade, joining up with the smaller groups from Downing and New Museums.

Chanting ‘no ifs, no buts, no education cuts’, ‘they say cut back we say fight back’, ‘Tory Tory Tory Scum Scum Scum’, they assembled into a crowd of over 200 and listened to speeches from striking workers in Cambridge.

Mordechai Paechter from CUSU got up and said ‘socialism is the only solution’ to secure fair wages, but was met with silence.

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He was followed by Cameron Matthews of the Fire Brigade Union who spoke about fighting to champion fairness, which the crowd applauded.

The second CUSU speaker was controversial choice Arsalan Ghani, who last year was accused by TCS of ‘criminal incompetence’ and had a vote of no confidence levied against him.

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Mr Ghani

Sadie Fulton, a local union rep let him speak not knowing who he was.

Shortly before 1pm, Sadie concluded the demonstration by saying ‘we are the university…there would be no university without us’ and leading the crowd with a final chorus of ‘they say cut back, we say fight back’ and the crowd dispersed.

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Did you participate in the strikes? Did you cross the pickets? Let us know in the comments section below.

Additional reporting by Alex Davis, Heather McKay, and Josh Simons.