Today marks the beginning of 18 days of UCU strike action in Newcastle
‘Walk out Wednesday’ saw a huge turnout of strikers march through Newcastle City Centre
Staff from Newcastle and Northumbria University began on their sustained chain of strikes today, after UCU announced a total of 18 days of strike action across February and March. Strikers armed themselves with signs and leaflets along the picket lines on university campus as others gathered this morning near the Civic Centre. They went on to march down Northumberland Street, eventually gathering and rallying around Grey’s Monument. They were joined by other job sectors striking, including members from the PCS Union, the Socialist Health Association, as well as the Fire Brigades Union.
Strike action was situated throughout the city centre and had a huge turnout. Picket lines on Newcastle University campus were located outside the Phillip Robinson Library, outside King’s Gate and by the Claremont Road entrance to campus. The streets were filled with strikers and signs that read “We support our educators” and from the SHA union,”For a publicly funded, publicly provided NHS”. These signs were brandished high as the seemingly endless crowd of demonstrators marched through the centre.
Strikers were primarily led by UCU members, who are striking against the insufficient pay and conditions, but were joined by hundreds of strikers from other sectors. UCU members are currently striking for a more suitable and rewardable pay and benefits to support their job as educators and personal lives, as well as to combat the cost of living crisis. They are also seeking an end to the use of insecure contracts.
The supportive turnout has been further seen online, through posts and retweets on the Newcastle University UCU Twitter page. Fellow students were also seen demonstrating and posted in support of their lecturers and tutors.
The BBC made an appearance for news coverage, with a postgraduate student speaking on behalf strikers on the picket lines and the strikes, reinforcing the student-staff solidarity that is rife and which should be encouraged more.
Strikers are hopeful that following today’s powerful march, the subsequent strikes that are to take place over the next eight weeks will prompt a change to the insufficient pay offers for teaching staff and a revamp in contracts that foreground pension support, as well as more benefits that enable a greater work-life balance for staff.
The rest of the statement can be found here with the rest of the dates for the following strikes here.