Strike! The first of several reflections…

Posted: December 2, 2011 by blackdaffodil in Demonstrate, Rally & Occupy!
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We’ll be writing up more of these, a historic event deserves nothing less after all!

A friend posted on Facebook “If it wasn’t for trade unions kids wouldn’t be off school today – they’d be at work,” and I’ve been teaching the social history of London, so I can tell you what to read if you want to research whether this is true. In the Victorian days of laissez-faire when there was no social housing, no health care, no 8 hour day or worker protection or minimum wage or sick pay or holidays or workers compensation, when the free market proved just how devastating it could be, families literally starved to death if their children did not work. Many starved to death anyway. Old people hung themselves so as not to have to try and survive through another winter. Through struggle and the strength of unions we changed ALL of that, we won pensions to support ourselves with dignity in old age and not burden our children, do we really want to go back?

I do not, I will not. I started the day round the corner from my flat, stopping by the picket at Lambeth College. No one was teaching, and no students went in. It was lovely. The Olive Morris House was a bit more heartbreaking for me, a good picket but everyone who walked past hurt, and people did. One said he had a son to feed, but I don’t know who we are striking for if not our children (still unborn in my case, but that doesn’t matter), who will be the first generation to inherit a world in which they will be worse off than their parents. Unless we change the direction we are heading.

Then I went on to picket my own workplace at LSE, not the happy place of radical learning it once was to be sure, but even so, it was almost empty. There were a handful of students, a few people lecturing though I didn’t see their faces…probably the same ones doing their best to justify the government’s current actions. But I mostly saw picketers and the students who stood with us, and did a brilliant job of making the strike visible on campus. You feel immense solidarity with people standing with you on the picket line, I can’t describe how good it feels to stand together for a better future, in spite of the shared sacrifice…And beautiful people bring you donuts. I’m just sad I got carried away and didn’t manage any good pictures, especially of the little girl passing out leaflets with me and telling me just where I should stand. She was marvelous.

We had a teach out as everyone began to mass in Lincoln Inn’s Field, and UK Uncut were serving solidari-tea, it hit the spot! I met back up with some Lambeth SOS folks (the march was so big I didn’t see them all!) and there was much rejoicing and they filled me in on the other pickets and the gathering in Windrush Square…I was sorry to have missed it! But the Central London march was fantastic and diverse and wonderful, I tweeted

“Lambeth crew have arrived and this march is kicking off, It’s incredible and I’m so proud right now to be union #n30 #ucu

And I’m still proud, and it feels like the tide is turning and we can win…

–Andrea Gibbons

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