Yesterday saw the second day of UCU strikes to defend pensions, extended past the pre-1992 institutions to all colleges and universities nationwide. It was the first national strike by the union since 2006.
Students occupying UCL in support of their lecturers since Monday were threatened with having to pay damages, including legal costs, to the university. Management claimed to have identified individual students on CCTV and collated their names onto a central database. Despite these threats, the occupation has gained more and more support from the student body leading to a sit-in outside a Council meeting to raise fees. There have been reports of aggressiveness from security and police eventually being called. Meanwhile, students occupying Glasgow University Senate room have been offered their original occupation back in exchange for leaving the Senate. The occupiers were forced out of the disused Hetherington building earlier this week by a heavy-handed police presence.
Again there were successful pickets at universities and colleges up and down the country. In Leeds, passing members of the public as well as those attached to the university showed support. Some deliveries to the university even refused to cross the picket line. Michael Arthur had to cross a strong picket to enter a meeting and was booed on his way in. A group of about 20 students and UCU members followed and, although not allowed in the apparently open meeting, remained in the hallway chanting to disrupt it. At Manchester Met however, picket lines were forcibly removed by security sparking outrage amongst unionists.
Marches and rallies took place nationwide. Around 500 attended an ESOL teach-out in London and over 1000 took part in a march on parliament. In Leeds, students and lecturers fed from the University to the Met and into the city centre, forcing traffic to stop as they took to the streets.