It’s a comforting trick of the mind when management see the union as simply a few bolshy union officers and reps. Any response to the union is subsequently one of either dismissing us or dealing with us as us alone – under the cosy banner of partnership working. In the run up to the local industrial action, one would have thought that such a trick of the mind might have corrected itself. After all, given our strict anti-trade union laws, our informal and formal ballot results were an extraordinary show of strength from the grassroots membership.
This past week, on the picket lines and through social media, the branch membership has revealed itself. Members have found courage to express what we as officers and reps have been expressing to management for over three years. We think now, management have seen: SHU UCU branch is more than a few bolshy union officers and reps. Yes, we are so much more.
Over the past week we have taken strength and inspiration from the already well-established rank-and-file USS dispute movement. UCU comrades in the pre-92 sector have developed a campaign that represents one of the most innovative and powerful trade union movements in recent years. Without a doubt that has energised us. Over the past week we have drawn strength and inspiration from each other and our local campaign against workload intensification and stress – this dispute comes from a longstanding, ever-worsening, deep and widespread collective grievance, and we are cathartically saying: no more, listen to us when we say, enough! Enough of seeing colleagues go off sick with stress or stress-induced illness; enough of watching our own and others work-life balance disappear; enough of witnessing the negative consequences of management decision-making for ourselves and our students while we do our best to clear up the mess and paper up the cracks.
Over the past week our members have told the truth about SHU specifically and higher education in general. We have collectively thrown off the shame and fear which has submitted us into silence for years. The student solidarity and activism here at SHU has bolstered us and made the critical difference, and for that we will long feel incredible gratitude. When we return to work on 5th December, we will sense a change in ourselves. Strike action is not simply a withdrawal of labour-power, it is an action of social and personal growth.
UCU Hallam Branch Committee
@UCUHallam #HallamStrike #UCUStrike #UCUStrikesBack