Welcome back for a full five days of picketing. What can we say? We’re sad to be out here but glad to be out with so many great people, fighting to protect the university we want and the values that it stands for. We were really heartened to hear at today’s mid-morning rally that Physics has grown from a picket of one to a gathering of 16 outside. JOMEC reports two new UCU members on the line today plus four members making their debut at a picket. Staff have not been scared away by the length of this strike and its costliness; in fact, it has demonstrated our commitment and inspired numbers to grow.
“Backbeat, the word is on the street that the USS numbers are wrong…”
Today’s rally was also a chance to show our creativity. Various members have been adapting song lyrics to suit our purposes, and we’re happy to showcase that talent. Nicky Priaulx and Steve Davies gave their treatment to “Wonderwall”, and as an added bonus, they came to the rally prepared with photocopies, so everyone can join in. Carina Girvan from SocSci gave us a version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”, penning a plaintive tune to Colin to keep his hands off our pensions. And Michael Munnik somehow managed to play a disco classic on the ukulele, getting the crowd to sing out that “It’s like thunder, lightning – the way you treat us is frightening!” Plenty of messages to those making the decisions that are keeping us out on the street.
“I’m beggin’ of you, please don’t take our pension…”
Following the rally, many staff and students met in the Bingo Hall at Cathays Community Centre for an open meeting – a chance to check in with each other, update on where we are and what strategies we need to win this struggle. We have plans for further engagement with students, asking each other for concrete ways to reach out and also dealing with the clashes that may come for many of us when we’re asked to reschedule work we’ve missed on strike days. This will be a challenge for many in the next few weeks, so keep in touch with each other and with UCU reps: we’re here to support each other when things get difficult! We also took the opportunity to update members on our joint statement from last week with the Vice-Chancellor and reiterate our campaign goals. Here’s what we still want, to ensure best protection for staff and for students. (Full statement is here.)
Teach-outs took place at Cathays Methodist Church, on the theme of Crime and Justice. This included a look at the fascinating work of the Cardiff University Innocence Project (you can find out more about their work in this great, slightly dated article in the Guardian).
“It’s no secret about it – we’re experts at this stuff, so see to it that we retire with enough…”
Tomorrow is a great opportunity to present our case to the political powers here in Wales. We’ve organised a lobby at the Senedd at noon. Cardiff UCU has laid out for a coach to take some of us down to the Bay after the rally at Main Building. Hop on or make your own way down. We want a good, strong showing, and you can meet your AM and talk with them directly about why this is important. We’ve gotten great support already from politicians, but this takes things up a notch.
Our main aim is to build on that impressive political support and encourage the Welsh Labour government to intervene with Universities UK and back the UCU’s objective: to keep our direct benefit pensions. If you haven’t already told us you’re coming, sign up here. If interest is high, we can put on a second coach, so click now and join us at the Senedd tomorrow. Don’t worry about limits on who can come into the building – it’s also really important that we get a contingent outside, bringing our usual energetic rally to a very public and powerful place. AMs will come out to address us, and we’re getting a strong indication that a contingent will be able to meet directly with the Education Minister to discuss our case.
We will be back in central Cardiff in time for the teach-outs, again at Cathays Methodist Church. Tomorrow’s theme is everybody’s favourite – neoliberalism! If you aren’t getting enough active political chat, here’s your chance for some good discussion.
Cardiff UCU Strike Communications Team