Unfortunately for Teesside University the national strike happened to fall on a holiday. This did not stop a lively picket line, bolstered by a contingent of students from the Education Activist Network (EAN). Terry Murphy, branch chair of UCU at Teesside stated “the attack on our pensions is the first step taken by the most right wing government in the last 40 years. It presents all of us on the left with a new challenge. Instead of Thatcher’s overt attacks we now have a slick PR government, more vicious than Thatcher, who disguise rather than boast about their assault on working class people.”
When pickets went to join a rally in Middlesbrough town centre they were clapped by a group of school children on the way. The rally was called jointly with Middlesbrough college to highlight the government attacks on pensions and ESOL provision. It was attended by around 60 people, with lecturers, college teachers, students and ESOL users all well represented. Speakers made the connection between how bankers who caused the crisis are getting away with bonuses and tax dodging while ordinary people are being made to pay for their mistakes. The rally ended with African drums and was an example of the fighting unity that we will need to defeat the cuts.