Photograph of picket line in front of the Guild with people wearing purple bibs, carrying placards and two dogs.
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How it felt to be at the picket lines, from our members.

“A good day where we saw our colleagues from different buildings and showed our collective resolve.”

The day wasn’t as warm as expected, the sun only really came out as we gathered for the rally- though compared to Friday the gods were clearly on our side. I picketed at North Gate as I had no colleagues I knew picketing, and so thought I would go to where I usually enter the uni on my days on campus. People were friendly such as a person from Cleaning Services in the T&L Building who got me in to it when I needed to use the facilities. The coffee van was a very welcome presence as were Lee’s Drink and Treat vouchers! The rally saw me talking to a retired lady who is now in Unite – it was good to see support from other unions. The speakers showed that local politicians are aware of our fight, so a good day where we saw our colleagues from different buildings and showed our collective resolve to get the University back to the table.

“Being part of the picket line definitely re-filled my hope tank”

Recalling the 2019 strikes as I walked to the rally in a summer haze, I felt as if the sun always shines on our picket lines! There are a lot of similarities with 2019 including some of the messages held on placards and the supporting honks of passing drivers. I had an extra union representative in tow this time, my dog- Rowen, who loved the attention of members stopping to say hi and dish out the belly rubs. We popped between our newly designated quiet picket at East Gate and the North Gate to catch up with my former library colleagues who were out in force. We had coffee and cake delivered to our picket, samosas and a lunch box, chatting and snacking made for an excellent picnic atmosphere- a bonus for Rowen, who is an expert finder of pastry crumbs.

As I walked between gates, I could hear the noise carry across campus from the picket lines and felt very proud of everyone joining together to make some serious noise for themselves and their colleagues. The last few months have been really challenging, in terms of negotiating, balloting and organising action. Often it can be dispiriting and frustrating when we feel continuously let down by our employer and are pushed to resort to strike action. Being part of the picket line definitely re-filled my hope tank, seeing all of the people I work with saying no to the bribe, whether they are among the worst affected or not. I found it really heartening to hear local allies supporting us too, including local councillors, reminding me that our action is bigger even than our community. It’s a small act of resistance to the wider imbalance in a society where workers’ wages are worth less, with employers feeling bolder in “saving on wages”. Over the last year, so many other sectors have been on strike, so it’s good to feel like a small thread in an enormous tapestry of workers across the UK saying that enough is enough, we see through the spin and we deserve better.

“We’ve got this if we all stand together!”

It was a great day, everyone in good spirits. It was great seeing the public getting involved and chatting to us about what’s going on and they were behind us . We’ve got this if we all stand together!

“I ended up staying right until the very end!”

It was my first experience of striking too. I thought I’d only manage two or three hours but the experience was so great, I ended up staying right until the very end!

“It was a really well organised day, and I’m proud to have participated.”

It was my first experience of striking/picketing. As a neurodivergent union member, I really appreciated how the committee set up the quiet picket and made sure colleagues with different needs were accommodated. East Gate were a small but friendly group, with our official picket dog Magic providing lots of cuddles. The rally was very motivating, hearing from great speakers and seeing such a great turnout, even in August.
It was a really well organised day, and I’m proud to have participated.

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