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4:04pm on Thursday, 22nd February, 2018:



It's always exciting when a new poster is put up at the university. What ill-advised attempt to instill in us a sense that the university is great will they attempt this time round?

Well, today we have a new poster advertising Essex University Patrol Services, who are like the campus police except they're not police. Rather unfortunate that it coincided with the first day of a series of strikes, but I'm sure it's an accident (as I don't believe the poster people think through any of their decisions in such depth).

Although I'm currently at work and the members of the UCU are on strike today, I didn't cross any picket lines. This is probably because I arrived at 7:30am and my colleagues are no less reluctant to get out of bed early than are my students. As for why I didn't go on strike myself, well I'm not in the union as I'm part-time, and I'd be in unprotected breach of contract if I did go on strike. Besides, I actually support our Vice Chancellor's view that the way to fix the pension deficit (which is what this strike is basically about) is for universities to contribute more, rather than for them to contribute the same and pay out less.

All members of staff in Computer Science were asked last week whether they intended to go on strike or not. I said I wasn't going to strike. I was expecting that the result of this exercise would be that students would be told which lectures would not be taking place because their lecturers were striking; I wasn't expecting the Head of School to send out a list of names of all the lecturers who weren't striking, so inviting people to dub it a "scab list". Wonderful. Next time I'm asked, I simply won't reply; if they want to know whether to withhold a day's wages or not they can ask me afterwards whether the lecture took place or not.

Weirdly, the queue for the burger bar on campus was non-existent at 1pm. Normally, it would be so long as to put me off joining it. I suspect that this is because students have not come onto campus because their lectures have been cancelled.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

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Copyright © 2018 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).