SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE UNION (UCU) STRIKE

5th MARCH 2020, 8:30am PICKET AT ORGREAVE 

This coming Thursday (5th March) Sheffield UCU will be taking a picket to the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), built upon the grounds of the Orgreave Coking Plant. UCU will be picketing with members of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign who have consistently supported UCU and the current fight over pay, equality, casualisation, and pensions.

This was a pivotal site in the 1984/5 National Union of Mineworkers strike and events that took place on the site have come to be known as the ‘Battle of Orgreave’. On the 18th of June 1984 striking miners were attacked by the police, many miners and bystanders were seriously injured, many with life changing and life threatening injuries. Following the assault, 95 miners were charged with riot, all of whom were acquitted. The ‘battle’ has been described as a “brutal example of legalised state violence” and the events of that day changed forever the face of industrial action and trade unionism in this country.

The purpose of the UCU visit and picket at the AMRC is: 

  • to support colleagues and fellow UCU members at the AMRC
  • to bare witness to the events that occurred at Orgreave 35 years ago and to support the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign in the ongoing fight for a full and proper investigation into the events of that day.
  • recognise the links between that event and the UCU current fight for a secure pension, stable pay and decent contracts.

 A Guardian article makes clear, the events at Orgreave were “not simply the most violent police behaviour ever seen in a modern industrial dispute, but the culmination of a concerted political campaign to diminish the strength of trade unions.” For more information about what happened at Orgreave and the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign please see here:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/18/scandal-of-orgreave-miners-strike-hillsborough-theresa-may

https://otjc.org.uk/

There is no doubt that the events at Orgreave were highly significant for trade unions and ultimately for the UCU dispute. The anti-trade union laws brought in in the years since Orgreave have made it increasingly hard for unions to take action to support their members. The decline of trade unionism over the last 35 years has gone alongside a continuous deterioration in employment conditions, many of which are endemic in the higher education sector and are included in the current Four Fights dispute. It is because of this that it is important for all of us to stand together to protect our working conditions and to combat the erosion of our rights.

The UCU would like to make this a strong picket as it is important to support colleagues who work in more isolated areas. 

If you are able to come to the AMRC and would like help with transport, or if you are able to take a car and give a lift to others please do get in touch with Siân (siandianawilliams@gmail.com) or myself (j.b.chilcott@sheffield.ac.uk). Please do also spread the word to any other colleagues you think would be interested.