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striking solidarity - part two

Now that UoE graduations have come to a close... it has been absolutely joyful to witness what students in PPLS, LLC, ECA and SPS (have I missed any?) have done over the past couple of weeks. While so much admiration and respect goes to the students themselves, this has also been possible becoz of staff in these units.

These action are, at least to some extent, a reflection of what staff have accomplished, not just during the MAB but right through and always. Political action does not happen in isolation and all credit to staff that have created and held space for such politicisation.

Unfortunately, I am not in one of the schools where this has been widespread. And it is hard not to feel wistful for what might have been had more staff across more schools stepped up to understand what is at stake here. (Much solidarity, of course, to staff in my school and elsewhere who have participated in the MAB despite being only one of a handful.)

In this context, it has really been something to read about Hollywood stars walking out of premiers and off sets to join the SAG pickets. Predictably, some have responded to the strike as a case of millionaires wanting to get richer. But these "star" walk-outs are striking acts of solidarity.

It has been eye-opening reading and watching testimonies of writers and actors who work in Hollywood about the inequity and exploitation they face. Because the industry is constructed through images of wealth and luxury, the vast majority of what exists is hidden.

For those of us in (relatively) secure positions with (relatively) comfortable salaries, this is really *not* about us.

This year, I had the opportunity to sit-in on a promotions and contributions panel - and it is utterly shocking and shameful the vast number of our colleagues who do important, genuinely impactful work who have spent years and years on a meagre salary - many under £30k and some barely above.

I hope that the WGA-SAG action demonstrates to colleagues that there is no glory in participating in business as usual for an organisation that is willing to demean and degrade your colleagues. No one will be thanked or remembered for sitting things out.

I would like to think that when Cillian Murphy, Matt Damon, etc. walked out of their premier, they understood that the strike was not about them. While they had little to gain from the action, solidarity mattered. I really hope that our colleagues watching all this unfold from the sidelines take a hint from... I can't believe I'm saying this... Hollywood celebrities.


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