On Wednesday the 10th of February, a University and College Union (UCU) meeting voted for three single day strikes: the 25th of February, as well as the 2nd and 4th of March.
This announcement followed a cynical, last moment attempt by Vice Chancellor Michael Arthur to undermine UCU by inviting them back to the negotiation table. This is not the first dirty tactic that Arthur has employed: the UCU maintains that the Vice Chancellor publicly misrepresented their position following the breakdown of the confidential ACAS negotiations on February 4th.
UCU are striking over compulsory redundancies in the Faculty of Biological Sciences (FBS) where, according to a member of staff, university management “are trying to get rid of the bad faces”. It seems increasingly obvious that those who make trouble or whose research is not deemed profitable will be culled in a university wide efficiency drive. Both UCU and university management see FBS as the first battle in a wider conflict over cuts and redundancies.
We must support the lecturers in the defence of their livelihoods, but we must also take the initiative and oppose the broader education crisis. UCU are already taking steps towards this end, proposing a festival of alternative education for the Easter break.
During the strikes we see an opportunity for students to seize control of education. Let us occupy and transform; hold participatory lectures, have discussions, workshops, play games and organise parties. If our university is to be really open, then we all must participate and contribute.
To survive and flourish we have to build creative alternatives.