Josh Curtis, Northampton Socialist Party
Socialist Party members joined the University and College Union (UCU) strikes outside of the University of Northampton on 22 February, to show solidarity with the ‘Four Fights’ campaign.
A dedicated group of picketers assembled to brave the cold, windy weather and voice their frustrations with the growing casualisation of contracts, and the gross overwork of university staff. As one staff member put it on the UCU Northampton branch’s blog: “We are not machines who can just keep pumping out work week after week, year after year. With the average week in academia now 50 hours, no wonder referrals to occupational health have risen by 64%.”
We were told on the picket lines that the previous day’s chanting could be heard as far away as Northampton General Hospital. The strikers positioned themselves on the side of the road, outside the university’s main gate, in an effort to convince cars to turn around as they entered.
Calls for the public to stand for fair pay and against the gender pay gap were successful in turning back a number of cars, showing that some among the British public still go by the old adage ‘never cross a picket line’.