At midday yesterday, lecturers, students and organisations all gathered in Bristo Square to rally those striking and picketing this week. This was the first day of strikes for the University of Edinburgh which will continue until, and including, Wednesday, with more coming in March.
The university has joined 61 other universities due to be striking this week with the Edinburgh UCU representative greeting those at the rally with the hopeful ‘this time I think we are actually gonna win’.
The Square was filled today with a turn out singing, holding pickets and banners and awaiting the ten speakers from various Scottish university organisations and political parties.
Scottish Labour’s MSP Daniel Johnson took an assertive stance against the pressure students have been under, declaring ‘the attempts to split students.. to monetise their lectures… is simply not acceptable’.
This sentiment was echoed by the UCU representative from the University of Glasgow ‘We must not forget that today’s students are tomorrow’s academics’.
However, most of the discussion surrounded the outrage at the mistreatment of the lecturers and their pensions.
The UCU Representative from the University of Stirling came out with the ‘you don’t get education on the cheap’ followed by the statement from the Heriot Watt representative, ‘we are radical and we are probably going to get more radical… we need to strike hard… until we are back to negotiations and talks’.
Such discontent fuelled the speeches with the St Andrews UCU representative listing how ‘increased casualisation and job instability is not sustainable… this is not a sustainable profession the way things are going… we will make this a sustainable profession with valued workers’.
Green Party MSP commented on how ‘the new President of the university is enjoying £80, 000 more than his predecessor… why are they being paid obscenely more than those on the ground?’. The sentiment was very much mirrored in the words of the University of Scotland Representative: ‘Winter is coming for the Vice-Chancellors and the UUK’.
The rally was closed with the uplifting statement from the then candidate for university rector, Ann Henderson, that ‘profit has no place in our housing and our education… the future for working people will be built on our standing together’.
The strikes will be continuing:
Week 1 – Monday 26th, Tuesday 27th, Wednesday 28th
Week 2 – Monday 5th, Tuesday 6th, Wednesday 7th, Friday 9th
Week 3 – Monday 12th through to Friday 16th
Week 4 – Monday 19th, Tuesday 20th
Image: Andrew Perry