Day 1 of the UCU Strike: a roundup of the events in Bristol

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By Epigram Reporters

Wednesday 1 December, the first day of Bristol UCU's strike, as part of the national University and College Union industrial action, in photos and videos from the Epigram team.

UCU members are taking strike action in disputes over pensions and the ‘Four Fights’: pay, workload, equality, and casualised contracts.

8:30am – striking UCU members create picket lines at university building entrances.

Bristol UCU pensions representative, Dr. Neil Davies, comments that the university is ‘losing some of [its] best staff’, insufficient pay and pensions meaning that ‘it’s no longer competitive to work here.’ He states that changes to the pension scheme are ‘really serious — they end up making us worse off by hundreds of thousands of pounds by the time we retire.’

10:30am – strikers gradually make their way from their picket lines to assemble outside the Victoria Rooms. Staff members move in small groups and some chanting can be heard.

Epigram | Megan Evans

11:00am – hundreds of university staff assemble outside the Victoria Rooms. Plaques and banners such as ‘we’re at breaking point’ and ‘students support the strike’ are on display.

An hour of speeches commences with Dr Jamie Melrose, President of the Bristol UCU branch, discussing cuts to pensions and the ‘Four Fights’ as reason for strike action, while expressing anger at the University of Bristol’s inaction: ‘You can afford it, do it.’

11:20am –  Bristol student Hamish Chapman vocalises his support for the UCU strikers and encourages students not to cross the picket line.

11:25am – Dan Norris, West of England Metro Mayor, expresses his support of strike action to the crowd.

11:30am – Cllr Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party, addresses the crowd: ‘I am here to stand with you … Greens are out with strikes all over the country today.’

11:30am– Kit Fortheringham, Bristol UCU’s anti-casualisation officer, speaks of the detrimental impact casual contracts have on university staff, particularly those in academic staff ‘pathways’ two and three. In a direct address to VC Prof. Hugh Brady, he exclaims ‘Do your job!’

11:40am – Lauren Hennessy, a UoB Research Associate, picks up the discussion of casualised contracts and its impact on staff redundancies.

11:45am – Tonia Novitz, Bristol UCU Vice-President, gives a speech on the need for solidarity, both between ‘levels’ of staff members and between students and staff.

11:50am – Approximately 300 protestors begin their march from the Victoria Rooms to College Green. Chants of ‘Students and workers unite and strike’ are heard from the crowd, who block traffic on Queen’s Avenue and Park Street.

Epigram | Filiz Gurer

12:00pm – The march ends at College Green, where strikers congregate and draw attention from members of the public.

Epigram | Holly Beaumont

The UCU strike continues on tomorrow and Friday 3 December.

Featured Image: Epigram / Holly Beaumont


Further information on the reasons for the UCU's strike action can be found HERE.

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