Border Criminologies will be going silent over the next week and a half, on the blog, on Twitter and on Facebook, in solidarity with its UK-members who are facing industrial action. Sixty UK Universities start 8 days of strike action today Monday November 25. UCU members were asked to vote on two separate issues: changes to pensions and on pay, casualisation and workloads. Overall, 79% of UCU members who voted backed strike action in the ballot over changes to pensions. In the ballot on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads, 74% of members polled backed strike action.

Many British academics have been here before. In 2018, strikes were spread over much of the year.  It is difficult to cancel class and it is hard to give up pay. Not everyone is in a position to make these choices. 

However, as we observed in 2018, striking offers an opportunity not just for solidarity, but also for reflection. This time around, the strikes target not just the financial future of members, but the present working conditions many face. The growing precarity and casualisation of academic labour is not just difficult for those who endure uncertain and poorly paid contracts, but also for their students and their colleagues. Those of us fortunate enough to have ongoing, and even well-paid, jobs, lose out as well, if our colleagues cannot access these kinds of opportunities, as the field itself is diminished and demoralised.

It’s difficult to strike at the end of the academic year, and as the holidays are approaching; many people will be facing additional costs relating to the holiday season. Final essays are starting to come in. On the other hand, picket lines are often a good place to find some respite from academic pressures. They are, notoriously, places of good cheer, bad chanting, and, if you’re lucky, free coffee and cake. More significantly, in coming together deliberately, for a shared purpose, pickets and strikes offer us a moment to think about our working and intellectual life both as it is and as how it could be. This, in itself, can be an uplifting and exciting experience.

Border Criminologies stands in solidarity with British academics. See you after December 4!