UCU strike action: Marxist student solidarity at Reading and QMU

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Today Marxist students have been out supporting UCU members on strike as part of the ongoing pay dispute.

Ross, a UCU member from Queen Margaret University (QMU) who was on strike today has sent in the following report:

There were about 12 of us on the picket line. The university wasn’t busy as its the summer period. However the picket was lively, with workers songs being sung. Some of the shop stewards are memebrs of protest choirs so they brought along song sheets. UCU organises about 20% of the QMU staff so unfortunately but expectedly a lot of workers crossed the picket line. However many spoke to us and said they would join for the next one. Whenever a wave of people walked past from a arrived bus or train, we’d start singing a workers song, whilst I was on the megaphone shouting out slogans, and others were flyering. It was fun and made a good atmosphere.

A University senate was on between 10 and 11 and we sung workers songs (‘Soldiarity Forever’, ‘Power In The Union’, ‘Bandiera Rossa’ etc.) almost constantly outside their window. QMU always hosts Italian teenagers in summer for a summer camp to teach them English etc. Seeing an opprtunity we started singing Bandiera Rossa, most of them were laughing and grinning, probably quite surprised but they were clearly familair with the song, a few clenched fist salutes and some joined in. The teacher asked us to sing Bella Ciao and we did, sort of.

We got supprt from the Students Union. We’d promised them previously to call on the university to donate the our unpaid wages to their hardship fund. We also got a visit from the Rocco the Students Union therapy dog. We did some photos in solidarity with repressed striking teachers in Mexico . CNTE, the Mexican teachers’ union, is in the same international organisation as UCU. We had in the past got UCU Scotland to show solidarity to the missing Ayotzinapa students and solidarity with these striking teachers so the UCU branch was familiar with the #OaxacaLucha situation.

It was a good picket but still a lot of work to do in convincing staff the need to join, organise and strike. And of course as a Marxist link the fact that this strike is part of a wider struggle against casualisation, privatisation and capitalism.

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Ed, from the University of Reading issued the following statement to staff striking today:

The Marxist Student Federation stands in solidarity with staff at the University of Reading who are taking industrial action in order to protest zero hour contracts, insufficient pay rises and low wages for female workers. We support the decision taken by members of the University and College Union (UCU) to boycott an event organised to celebrate the University’s 90th anniversary. No worker should celebrate a real term pay cut of 14.5% and members of the UCU have every right to fight for salary increase. The MSF recognise the UCU’s right to peaceful protest and we hope that this dispute will lead to better wages for all its members involved.