Friday, 2 December 2011

London Met UNISON members join historic strike on Nov30

UNISON stewards have all reported positive responses to the biggest one-day public sector strike in a generation. Only a handful of strike breakers crossed our picket lines at London Met, and we are confident many non-members joined the strike too.
Tower building picketA few lonely individuals, agency staff or managers opened offices and buildings that would otherwise have been shut and many sections were closed completely, including: Moorgate Library, Commercial Road Library, Calcutta House Registry, Ladbroke House Library… the list goes on. Sara Masson and Megan Redmond, UNISON reps who picketed Ladbroke House report:
"We were warmed and nourished by 4 women from IHOOPs (Islington Hands Off Our Public Services) the NUJ, and an anonymous activist, who arrived with hot coffee, homemade flapjacks and muffins. They told us they had come from the picket line at the Whittington Hospital and several others en route.
"They felt strike was very successful, with high participation levels everywhere they had been and much support from the public. When two of our picket went over to the Highbury Fields School picket for a chat, a bit later on, we accosted Nick Robinson (photo), spotted on his way to work, and we exhorted him to tell it like it is! He even took a copy of the supportive article in the Evening Standard on the eve of the strike to fill in the gaps in his knowledge…"
Maggie Loughran, who picketed Commercial Road, said:
"Commercial Rd was deserted, only a handful of students walked in and walked straight out again when they found the place empty. Unfortunately we had one member cross the picket line who helped keep the empty building open.  One admin worker (out of the two that went in!) who wasn't a member decided enough was enough and went in to work but by the end of the day had joined Unison saying "This is the right thing to do". I was proud to stand outside on the picket line as a rep for UNISON on behalf of all of our members."
The only students in Central house were architecture students who had an exhibition project launch at Toynbee Hall. The UCU and the UNISON pickets had nobody to convince not to come in because no one turned up except for just one lecturer!
Striking public sector workers march past RBS in the City of LondonEddie Rowley, who was lead picket at Goulston St, said: "The symbolism of the view in front of those of us picketing on outside Goulston Street was clear to us all. In the car park opposite the Porsche and Mercedes belonging to the city workers stared back at us relentlessly. To the left we see Royal Bank of Scotland looming high, perhaps the destination of some of Porsche owners, settling in for another day of gambling away public money from the latest bank bail-out.
"They are the 1% who brought who caused the ever worsening financial catastrophe, yet it is the 99% who are expected to pay for it. Well the 99% will not stand for it any longer. We will not tolerate attacks on our pensions, public services and welfare state to pay for their mess. We will strike and strike again and are determined to win."
We felt the vast majority of staff stayed at home – many to look after children whose schools were on strike and many more came to join the main rally which was huge.
The Tower Building, Calcutta House, Goulston St and the Learning Centre all had strong, lively pickets and lots of support from the public was shown by cars and bus divers tooting their horns.
David Summers, Branch Young member's Officer, said:
The Learning Centre attracted strong support from both members and students – only a small number of students and just a few members crossed the picket line. One staff member changed their mind about going in, and instead joined us on the picket line for the whole morning once he had listened to our arguments over why we were striking! I was proud to stand as a UNISON rep alongside my members and students on the picket line on the 30th November in fight to secure a decent pension for all public service workers!
Fair pensions for allSome even brought their children to join the pickets or the demo itself. After all the fight for pensions is about ensuing the future!
Those who joined the strike – some for the first time in their lives – enjoyed the atmosphere and even felt inspired. The high point for the city campus was when we joined a demo that came past Old Castle st. Hospital workers in UNITE, UNISON, and medical practitioner associations spontaneously started to march from Whitechapel, past the banks in the City, all the way past St Paul's by the Occupation through to the main demo at Lincolns Inn Fields in Holborn.
UNITE, NUT and PCS balloons in a sea of trade unionists at start of demo
From there we joined up to 50,000 other trade unionists – from the PCS, NASUWT, NUT and nearly 30 different unions all out on strike together against the pensions robbery, coming together in a carnival-like atmosphere.
The immense crowd took over an hour to march the short distance to Parliament where we heard speeches from union reps from various unions. Our very own Mark Campbell (UCU Chair) spoke to the rally (see short youtube clip below) before the clouds finally gave in and poured rain on the crowd before some of us sloped off to celebrate a successful day in a nearby pub.
UNISON reps at London Met felt we had done a good job of bringing people together in common cause. We even had both the North campus Banner and the City campus banner out on the same demo for the first time in many years (see top photo).
The day was overall a huge success and we are all Proud to be UNISON, and proud to have taken an active part in the biggest strike in a generation. A special thanks from the Branch Committee to all those members who respected and joined our picket lines.
To those who went in to work: why not join us next time? Go here (please forward this to your colleagues who for whatever reason have still not joined).
To those who stayed at home: why not join the picket lines next time and feel like you're actively taking part in making history?
To those who joined in: why not leave your comments or send us your photos? See lots more Photos on-line on Facebook here?

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