Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week saw the second week of national strike action hit the University of Bristol.
Last week, Vice-Chancellor Hugh Brady urged for UUK to reopen negotiations with UCU over the proposed pension change. With further talks confirmed to start on Monday 5th March, Brady now faces calls from staff and students to speak in support of strikes like other Vice-Chancellors across the country such as those from Newcastle and Glasgow.
With the news that staff strikes could continue for longer than planned if a solution is not found, some departments at the University of Bristol have begun to announce measures to mitigate the potential impact on studentshttps://t.co/uPVQCreNzj pic.twitter.com/Ef8RtINg8n— Epigram (@EpigramPaper) February 27, 2018
This week has also seen protesters disrupt lectures and students working in libraries, allegedly shouting ‘I’d rather be a picket than a scab.’ One student described the action as becoming ‘a bit too militant’ while another tweeted ‘heckling students entering the lib. to me, that’s a disgusting way of showing support’.
In an exclusive interview with Epigram, members of the Student-Staff Solidarity group argued the importance of not going into university on strike days, arguing ‘every time you cross the picket line you undermine the strike. Avoid it, as much as possible’. Another member justified the use of the term ‘scab’, urging people to ‘bear in mind about that chant is that it is a really old chant. People need to try not to take those chants too personally.’
Lynn Robinson, Deputy Registrar at the University, today sent an email to all students. In it, she condemned this form of disruption: ‘We have had a small number of reports of instances where some protesters have noisily disrupted lectures and study areas. We would like to remind everyone that this is not acceptable behaviour. It can be distressing for the students and staff affected, and disrespectful of the decision they have made freely to attend’.
On Monday 26th February, students and striking staff marched from the University of Bristol campus to College Green, banging pots and pans, playing music and setting off flares. Rallies also took place outside Wills Memorial Building.
Also on Monday, protesters stormed a meeting of the Senate chaired by Hugh Brady in Wills Memorial Building. Videos taken by Epigram show protesters playing loud music and chanting outside the Reception Room, when Registrar Robin Geller emerged and announced Brady would speak to three elected members during the meeting. Due to an earlier confrontation, University security added a warning to protestors: 'Anyone who pushed my officers will not be allowed through that door, and we know who those are'.
Before this meeting, footage shows Hugh Brady crossing the picket line into the Wills Memorial Building. Protesters shouted ‘walk of shame’ and sang: ‘hey Hugh Brady, I wanna know where my pension’s gone’ to the tune of ‘Hey Baby’ as Brady walked past.
Measures have started to be announced by university departments in an attempt to mitigate the potential impact of strikes on students. The Department of History has extended a third year deadline by 6 days, with similar measures are being taken across other schools and faculties.
The strike action continues Monday-Thursday next week and Monday- Friday the week after.
Featured image: Epigram/Cameron Scheijde