UCU lecturer strike was a pitiful protest for an important cause

I support my lecturer sign
At times, it seemed more students than lecturers were protesting. Picture: churchofpunk/Flickr

Strike whilst the irons hot – that’s what my mother told me. Well, she would have done had she been a blacksmith, or an eager political activist.

I can only imagine our University lecturers didn’t have the same insightful maternal figure I was blessed with – as last week’s strike was quite simply way off the heat.

‘Budget cuts’ all feels a little bit last season now. With all that’s going on in Libya and Japan, the importance of our lecturers’ pensions has been slightly eclipsed. Marches and demonstrations have had their time in the limelight, now it’s time for natural disaster and civil war to have their turn.

One feels that even the most organised and impressive strike would have been lost in all the excitement of last week. Warm weather, essays and Rebecca Black’s new hit solo have all come at the wrong time for the strikers. They missed the bandwagon, and have been punished as a result.

But there was more than just bad timing to this. The strike itself was pitiful. I wanted chants, and banners, and megaphones.

I had high hopes last Thursday, when I walked past the Students’ Union. Hundreds of students and lecturers, stood united on the concourse – the whole of the Chemistry Department devoid of human life. It was a most impressive sight.

Had it been the strike I was watching, and not a fire drill, then the whole hoorah may have achieved something closer to the desired effect. As it was however, the strike sucked.

In a week when Justin Bieber was almost arrested for ‘inciting a riot’ from his hotel balcony in Liverpool, our lecturers really did put in a poor showing. At times it was hard to distinguish between those who were striking and those who were flyering for nightclubs – such was the lethargy behind it all.

For a strike to really succeed there needs to be a united front. This strike was severely lacking that. When your seminar tutor has to notify you of their actions by email, then they’ve lost the battle already.

With many lecturers continuing with things as per, those who were involved came across as petulant – an outcome I presume they weren’t going for.

It’s a shame, because I support the course fully. If it was my pension under threat, I’d be pretty pissed off too. I’d strike, throw my dummy out multiple times. I’d scream and shout, and rant about how horrible a person Cameron is, and how Nick Clegg’s head should belong on a spike.

But there just wasn’t that spark, no one seemed to care that much. The whole place had the feel of a village fate to it – where was the purpose? Where was the anger?

I do hope the lecturers are successful in their quest, as I hope everyone is in their fight against these cuts. If the slightly more impressive student demonstrations failed in their bid though, I don’t see much promise for the lecturers.

Ah well, at least the weather was nice.


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