How do I persuade my students not to cross picket lines on N30?

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Ramona
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Nov 19 2011 15:26
How do I persuade my students not to cross picket lines on N30?

I'm currently working as a TA for first year anthropology undergrads. They're all very young, and mostly apolitical.

There won't be classes on N30 because the teaching block is over, but the Uni will still be open, and the library staff will be on strike - there'll be a picket line but probably only until 11am. We're trying to organise a 'teach out' on the library picket line in the morning, I'll be giving some sort of talk and hopefully we'll have a few others along too.

So I have two classes to teach before then, I'm not really sure how to raise the subject or how to approach it, but I know I really need to. Has anyone done this before? I've never been on strike...

Spikymike
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Nov 19 2011 16:14

Couldn't a more widely distributed leaftet ditributed in advance be useful - say some kind of adaptation of the Solfed 'Don't cross picket Lines' mentioned on their website and the N30 thread here but aimed at students as future (and possibly presently part-time) workers?

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Ramona
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Nov 19 2011 16:21

Yeah just as I posted this I saw that this is already being worked on by some of the students. So hopefully that'll help

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 19 2011 16:34

London Education Workers Network have been working on a 'what is a strike?' type text aimed at school students. It's in pretty simple language but probably fine for undergrads too tbh. I don't think LEWN has a contact yet (it's just the EWN people in London, i think), but maybe PM Chilli Sauce.

Harrison
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Nov 19 2011 16:57

I can only offer advice as a first year undergrad.....

Maybe there might be some leftist or sympathetic students you think you could ask to interject in the classes and pass on your message without you having to stick your neck out? (aka get them to say 'we should be supporting our lecturers' or something like that, then using that as an opening to raise the issue?)

mons
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Nov 19 2011 17:19

I reckon much more effective if you say it yourself, there's always lefties saying stuff and let's face it, who listens to them! Like Harrison I'm a first year undergrad (partly doing anthropology!) and I reckon students would be really receptive and interested to hear what you have to say, as a teacher, and probably take it on board.

wojtek
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Nov 19 2011 18:20

You definitely have to tackle the counter-argument that goes 'why should we support them, we've already paid the fees, etc. it's not like it's going to have an effect'. I had trouble doing this with my friends last year when lecturers went out on strike over pensions.

I think, like it or not, the default position of most students is one of being a consumer. sad But then that's probably to be expected...

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Nov 19 2011 18:22

Explain how the strike effects you as a individual, in my experiance people react better when you explain issues in terms of a individual they know rather then talking about the numbers and stuff. Appeal to their relationship with you as their teacher/lecturer.

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 20 2011 00:11

Yeah, SF is on that shit! PM me, Ramona. Or better, training (a) solfed.org.uk

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Nov 20 2011 21:43

If all else fails you could try direct action with fire alarms, smoke bombs, stink bombs, cutting the power, occupation of main facilities, creating lots of noise from sound systems, etc.

tastybrain
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Nov 20 2011 22:19
KriegPhilosophy wrote:
If all else fails you could try direct action with fire alarms, smoke bombs, stink bombs, cutting the power, occupation of main facilities, creating lots of noise from sound systems, etc.

When I first read this I thought you wrote "you could try direct action with firearms" eek

I was gonna be like "damn dude, chill out"

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KriegPhilosophy
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Nov 20 2011 22:20
Quote:
When I first read this I thought you wrote "you could try direct action with firearms"

I was gonna be like "damn dude, chill out"

Columbine/red brigades style student movement ;D

Caiman del Barrio
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Nov 20 2011 23:27
Joseph Kay wrote:
I don't think LEWN has a contact yet (it's just the EWN people in London, i think)

FYI the contact's me. smile

Boris Badenov
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Nov 20 2011 23:54
Ramona wrote:
There won't be classes on N30 because the teaching block is over, but the Uni will still be open, and the library staff will be on strike - there'll be a picket line but probably only until 11am. We're trying to organise a 'teach out' on the library picket line in the morning, I'll be giving some sort of talk and hopefully we'll have a few others along too.

Perhaps a daft question, but if there won't be any classes at all on that day, why would they even want to cross the picket line?

In any case, the uni is always a problematic place in strike situations because of the very hierarchical nature of the work force. There're tenure profs, junior profs, part-time lecturers, TAs, as well as non-academic staff. At my uni, the non-academics are currently on strike, but the academics aren't and so they're (or rather we're) pretty much crossing the picket line just by going to work (at least it's not as bad as what the "middle management" scabs do). The only solution would be a solidarity strike from the TA union (or even better a general strike that would include all academics), but that's not looking likely right now.

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Nov 21 2011 00:46
Boris Badenov wrote:
Perhaps a daft question, but if there won't be any classes at all on that day, why would they even want to cross the picket line?

Cos all the unions at the uni will be out, not just UCU (mine), also unison and unite so the library will be closed, they'll want to come in for studying and revision stuff before exams (this is the state of youth today, horrific...)

But yeah I'll get in touch with Caiman? Chilli Sauce? And yeah I guess explain exactly why I'll be on strike. I don't even get a pension, but it's FOR THE FUTURE OF ANTHROPOLOGY and education and all these things.

Rachel
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Nov 21 2011 09:13
Quote:
Boris Badenov wrote:

Perhaps a daft question, but if there won't be any classes at all on that day, why would they even want to cross the picket line?

At my FE college these days the management makes a big effort to insist that students come in on strike days - they threaten and bully them and try to teach classes themselves, rather than concede that a strike has closed the college. Teachers see it as important that students don't go in, both because we'd like them not to cross picket lines in general and because we always see our struggles as being for the students as well and want management to see this.

If students can see that its an active strike, their teachers are doing stuff, not just taking the day off, then they are generally supportive if we can try to involve them in some way (sometimes just with letters that they can sign, sometimes with teach-outs, banner painting, etc). These are adults, it might be different at the 16-19 part of the college. That said I suspect our students will assume that the 30th strike is about cuts to ESOL and other adult provision which are the issues we've been agitating about for years - they may not know exactly what the pensions issue is all about but I don't think that matters.
Good luck Ramona!

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Nov 21 2011 19:47

Yeah FE and HE are so different from schools, simply because the students are older. We literally cannot open on nov30 even if the head wanted to as our students are under-16 so the lack of staff poses a duty-of-care issue.

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Nov 22 2011 02:10

Thanks Rachel! And good luck for you too, and Choccy and everyone else! Chilli Sauce is sorting me out with some flyers now smile

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the button
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Nov 22 2011 08:38

If they're *your* students, just tell them you'll give them shit marks if they cross a picket line. cool

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Nov 26 2011 16:53

First of all, good on you for taking care to persuade them not to cross the picket line ! It is tempting to give up on apolitical youth (which make up the majority of my friends) lol

Anyway, here is my situation in my school. The school has closed, including the sixth form etc because they just would not of had enough staff to be able to run anything worth opening for. I'm really happy that I now have a day off school so I can go up to London and stuff, as a lot of demo's etc are not on the weekend.

HOWEVER, reading this has made me think, because the school library is still going to be open 10am-2pm for year 11's and sixth formers to use if they wish for "private study". Now, I know most of my friends will be taking the day off and doing fuck all, but I think a small few might genuinely go in to the library as we are currently having our mocks, and some might still have them.

So my question is, do students going in to the library count as crossing a picket line/strike breaking ? If so, how would you go about persuading if them if you were me. Its sixth form so my friends are all either 17 or 18. You might advise the same to me as you have to Ramona, but I did notice some one say the tactics involved, if that's the right word to use, should be different for FE and HE.

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Nov 26 2011 19:32

I don't think that counts as strike breaking, but what I think you should do is go down from 10 until 2 and talk to the people who are planning on going in about the strike.

SF has a couple of really good leaflets that might be helpful. Hit me up at training (at) solfed.org.uk and I can send them your way.

action_now
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Nov 26 2011 19:52

explain to them that there are more fun things to do than school. or if they love it that much then set them an assignment to find soemthing else to do for a day.

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Nov 26 2011 21:18

At risk of derail, yeah that avatar is really weird.

But Croydonian, I think Chilli Sauce's advice makes sense. Also I'd say don't fret too much if people don't take it on board, for lots of people this is the first time they'll have really heard about strikes at all, if they're not particularly engaged with current affairs or whatever (which they might be, which is great) then you may find yourself starting from scratch, but it's still a conversation worth having because everyone has to start somewhere!

Wayne
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Nov 26 2011 22:11

I agree with mons (and, of course, the button). I think you should definitely talk to them about the strike in advance - the really cool thing about a hierarchical education system is that young people are taught to listen to their teachers. On Monday, I'm going to speak to my first year's about it, initially as an academic point: 'I know you're supposed to be doing an oral presentation on Wednesday... Well, I don't know if you've heard but all public service workers are on strike that day.' Then I'll ask them what they think about it and, during the conversation, I'll explain why I'm striking. If you encourage them to disagree with you then the class can have a debate - you'll win.

There are loads of scabs at my uni so on the last couple of strike days a lot of students have crossed picket lines to attend classes. That said, this is the first time Unison have been out too so there may be a broader disruption to business as usual. Ours is a very conservative institution, but the colleagues who teach on my course are all solidly union, so our students rarely complain about us striking - in fact, some of them are coming to the pickets on Wednesday (as Rachel says, I think it's important to show that it's something active they can be involved in). In the student body as a whole, however, there is a consumerist attitude and apathy or hostility towards the strikes. When talking to such students, I try to emphasise the wider effects of the education cuts (i.e., not focus too much on pensions - even I can't get worked up about pensions because, apart from anything else, it seems presumptuous to expect I'll live that long). When that doesn't work - and it rarely does - I ask them how long they're going to be students for: if they're planning on studying for the next forty-five years, then their attitude's fair enough; but if like most students they're going to enter the labour force in a year or two, then they might want to take a more long-term perspective. If that doesn't work - and again it usually doesn't - then, as a last resort... I lie. I say, 'what you going in for anyway?' When they tell me they've got, say, a psychology lecture, I ask them who's teaching it. Whoever they name - even if said lecturer has just skulked past us head down - I say the class is cancelled: 'Joe's on strike - didn't he tell you? I just saw him - he's picketing the far gate.' I'd do the same with the library: 'library's shut - all the staff are round at the side entrance...'

I don't know if that helps at all.

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Nov 27 2011 16:47

@action now - avatar is a bit dodgy, might not please some of the feminists Im sure are on here.

I have just realised, I could do my talk on the strikes before or after n30. I was contemplating doing quick thing dispelling all common misconceptions about anarchism, but it was not really topical or relevant in current affairs at the time, but I could use this as an excuse to talk about why striking is good and why direct action is the way to go. Might well print some leaflets, I will get at you through that email adress chilli sauce.

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Nov 27 2011 17:52

This is an organise thread about persuading students not to cross picket lines. If anyone wants to discus action_now's avatar please start a thread in an appropriate forum.

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Nov 27 2011 22:22

Croydonian, I think that's a great idea (haven't rec'd that email, tho).

Baronarchist
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Nov 27 2011 22:50

Wait, so, me not attending college as my tutors are striking Wednesday actually counts as doing something?

lettersjournal
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Dec 12 2011 06:08
Boris Badenov wrote:
In any case, the uni is always a problematic place in strike situations because of the very hierarchical nature of the work force. There're tenure profs, junior profs, part-time lecturers, TAs, as well as non-academic staff. At my uni, the non-academics are currently on strike, but the academics aren't and so they're (or rather we're) pretty much crossing the picket line just by going to work (at least it's not as bad as what the "middle management" scabs do). The only solution would be a solidarity strike from the TA union (or even better a general strike that would include all academics), but that's not looking likely right now.

Ah, you are crossing the picket line when you go to work. You are a scab. Surprised that nobody responded to this.

For a communist militant, wouldn't one's actions in the workplace be the thing that most define one as a communist? Or in light of the Aufheben stuff, is what one does at work off limits for criticisms now?

It doesn't concern me what you decide, either way, but it should be said explicitly, rather than hinted at.

Rachel
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Dec 12 2011 10:01

If lettersjournal is lines, weren't you the one saying that pickets at academic institutions shouldn't be respected anyway?

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Dec 12 2011 10:30

lettersjournal claims to be "whatsinevidence".