A whistle stop tour of the picket lines

Dave Prentis with pickets at the London School of Fashion

Dave Prentis with pickets at the London School of Fashion, Photo: Amanda Kendal



“Thank you so much for what you’re doing,” said Dave Prentis, shaking the hands of pickets firmly.

It was a grey, dank London morning, and the UNISON general secretary was on a whistle-stop tour of various sites to greet and give support to those staffing the picket lines outside just a few of the capital’s higher education institutions where workers are striking over a 1% pay offer.

Striding purposefully through the leaf-covered streets from UNISON Centre to the UCL entrance on Gower Street, Mr Prentis met members from all three unions involved in the action as they lifted the gloom with a vibrant, colourful picket, complete with music and cups of coffee.

After stopping to chat with as many as possible, and giving an interview for the media explaining why strike action was necessary, it was on to the Tube and down to Regent Street.


Dave Prentis giving an interview outside UCL

Dave Prentis giving an interview outside UCL, photo: Amanda Kendal


There, outside the University of Westminster building, with the BBC just up the road and Christmas lights already hanging above, it was another chance to meet more pickets – not just from UNISON, but also from UCU and Unite.

Here too he wanted to take the opportunity to thank them for the role they were playing – not forgetting to greet the canine picket who responded with excited tail wagging at being included.

With a meeting looming, that should have been it.

But there was yet another picket nearby and the UNISON general secretary headed off to find the London School of Fashion building on John Prince’s Street, almost in the heart of London’s shopping district.

There, on a side street, pickets were delighted not to have been forgotten. He chatted briefly and listened to yet more stories from people who are desperately in need of a decent pay rise, before bidding a farewell and heading off to get another Tube train to more business.


UNISON higher education strike webpages