I dislike strike days. I don't like to admit to being on strike. I don't like to admit to not being on strike. I reason that I am actually very well paid by the standards of most people in the UK. I also recognise that many people in the university sector are not quite so fortunate, whether they be the admin staff, the porters, or those academic colleagues on short-term contracts or how are paid by the hour-- in some universities on zero hours contracts.
My first real encounter with strike action took place back in 2003 or 2004. Although not enthusiastic about the strike I agreed to man a picket line. Getting abused by an elderly man complaining about council tax was not a high point, but watching colleagues cross the picket line was a particularly difficult experience. If they actually opposed the strike action, I wouldn't have minded. However the colleagues were going in to teach classes as to not disrupt student learning, yet promising to tell the university that they had been on strike. A strike which does which has no effect on anything is hardly a strike.
Many academics will be on strike today doing research. They reason that research is their own private project and not the universities. I don't buy into this reasoning, but I can sort of see how this might justify getting a research day in when this wouldn't otherwise happen. Either way I remain I'm unconvinced that strikes in higher education actually make a difference in the longer term.
So what have I being doing today? Am I on strike?
I've read an academic paper.
I've helped the owner of a small business with setting up her website.
I've written this blog post.
I've attempted to write some other stuff, but feel a bit of block.
I had no meetings or classes timetabled for today, so I reason no one was inconvenienced by me staying at home.