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Open letter to the picket-line crossers

by | March 16, 2018

Dear colleague,

Over the past few weeks of the UCU strike to defend pensions, you have repeatedly crossed picket lines of lecturers and students from your institution. Many of us have asked you to support an action aimed at preventing the imposition of pension poverty on thousands of academics present and future, and to challenge the plunder of a collective resource, a process which is being driven by faulty economics and engineered by managers who have massively increased their own pay at the same time as they have squandered our deferred salary.

Notwithstanding all these arguments – some of them even echoed by vice-chancellors and government representatives – you have still crossed picket lines.

As you are clearly unfazed by calls to solidarity, and blessed with an admirable lack of self-interest, we are hereby asking you to be consistent with your convictions, namely that the strike is unjust or futile.

We know that you shun unearned rewards and are not the kind of person who would break a strike and nevertheless benefit from results attained by the sacrifices of your colleagues. We have also heard you, as you sneaked or charged past us, say that you “care about the students”. We are asking you therefore publicly to pledge that you will not accept any benefits accruing to you from better pension terms won by the strike, and that you will donate them all to your university’s student hardship fund.

We know you are a person of firm convictions, and we are confident you will live by them.

In the absence of your solidarity,

The pickets.


Alberto Toscano has edited and translated Franco Fortini’s The Dogs of the Sinai, and is currently finishing his translation of Fortini’s A Test of Powers: Essays 1948-1968, for The Italian List at Seagull Books, which he edits. He is the author of Fanaticism (2010) and Cartographies of the Absolute (2015, with Jeff Kinkle). He is an editor of the journal Historical Materialism, and teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London.