will I strike on International Women’s Day?

Sadie, Beatrice and Joanna. 3 generations of international women.

Will I be on strike for International Women’s Day?  Well yes, I’ll have to if the UCU action carries on as planned.

But I have some questions.  The UCU strikes are on chosen days. How and why were these chosen?  We don’t strike on Friday, but we do on Thursday.  International Women’s Day is not, presumably, a surprise to UCU. Why not chose that as a non-strike day so that we can attend our events? IWD has its origins in the women’s labour movement, but to commemorate it at our university events this year is to ‘betray it’? I wish my union had not put me in this situation.

A nearby ancient institution has already got itself in a tangle by linking E&D initiatives with the pensions strike * . I fear this is why we can’t have nice things.

For me IWD is part of a bigger picture, I understand that women are disproportionately hit by pension changes, but lets use this day to talk about that and the many other inequalities. I am pleased that my University supports IWD and that there are events to raise its profile for staff and students and I want to be part of it.

I am told that there are ‘lots’ of IWD events being held by academics off-campus so I can go to those (please send more details). Or I can go to the UCU march.

Academic colleagues are not the only people who hold, attend and value IWD events,  and academics colleagues are not the only people in UCU, and they are not the only people who work at the University.

I would encourage staff who are not on strike to organise, attend and enjoy the University IWD events. It’s a great way to show your support for IWD and a healthy attendance will help to ensure that we get to do them again next year.

Here’s the post I was going to post for International Women’s Day:

The Red Thread

Did you know that IWD began with a strike by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU)? It was originally called “International Working Women’s Day“, its purpose was to give laboring women a focusing point in their struggle for fair working conditions and pay. This year International Women’s Day 2018  themes is #PressforProgress.

My great grandma Sadie was a member of ILGWU.  A Jewish woman working in dangerous factory conditions as a garment worker in New York.  My grandfather Stanley often complained later that he had missed out on jobs because his mother-in-law was ‘a communist’**. Occasionally I find ILGWU labels inside my vintage dresses. They are always well made. Here’s a picture of Sadie, and a picture of the ILGWU label in my dress today.

*St Andrews.

**Family lore is that she wasn’t actually a member of the Communist Party, but she voted for one, and that was enough to get her and her children on a list.

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