Figures obtained by Impact under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that less than 25% of University of Nottingham staff eligible to take part in the strikes on the 30th November 2011 did so. The N30 strike, where 2 million public sector workers were due to strike, was to be “the biggest strike in a generation” according to the TUC (Trades Union Congress). The records of the University’s Academic Services Division show that 929 members of staff were eligible to strike. Of those, 228 members did so.
These figures actually show a marked improvement on the previous University and College Union strikes earlier in the year, which saw just a 6% turnout of eligible staff reporting to the University as officially striking. The increased turnout, however, could simply have come down to the greater awareness and media coverage of the latter event. Despite the increase in strike action taken, both at the University and across the country during the day of protests, the N30 was described by David Cameron as something of a “damp squib”, reflecting much of the mainstream media’s thoughts. Jeremy Clarkson’s subsequent comment live on TV the following day ? “I would take [the strikers] outside and execute them in front of their families”? became arguably the most memorable aspect of strike action that failed to capture the public’s imagination in the same manner as the London riots of the summer and the NUS Demolition of the year before.
Despite the relatively low turnout at the University compared to other organisations, the staff members present on the day were generally positive about the improvement in numbers of picketers. Nick Stevenson, a Reader in Cultural Sociology at the University told Impact, “We weren’t linking with other workers last time we were taking action… so [the N30] is probably more important in that respect”.
Ben McCabe and Dave Jackson
Check out our videos of the N30 strikes on YouTube.