Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Today I am on strike, day 12

I am beginning to lose track of the day of the week, lose track of what strike day it is. I have to count back to a weekend, I have to add up all the strike days.

Day 12. Two more days this week, this action. But unless things change (I no longer know if I should be optimistic or not), a further 14 days of strike action have been called for April-June. And if that happens, then I will need to keep careful count.

In today's strike diary, I want to talk about something that was a non-issue when the strike started, but which more and more people are beginning to worry about. It's a topic I actually did a twitter thread on, a week ago. Here's what I had to say there:

Something that hasn't been discussed much in my twitter corner re: #ucustrikes #ussstrikes is those of us immigrants who are striking.

I'm here on a Tier 2 visa. I'm counting down the days until I can apply for ILR (< 2 years, if they don't change the goalposts). After that, I'll be counting down the days until I can apply for citizenship. We (J and I) are intending to become citizens as soon as we possibly can -- for ourselves because we have no intention of leaving, and for G because this will be her quickest route to citizenship. The worry of shifting goal-posts is ever present; at any given time, I know what the requirements for ILR and citizenship are, but I have no idea if they'll have changed by the time I reach the point where I would've been eligible by today's standards.

As a Tier 2 visa holder, I am allowed to participate in lawful strike activity like #ucustrike #ussstrike. If I am absent without leave from my job for more than 10 consecutive days, my employer must report this. (Thank you, @ucu for scheduling this round of strike activity so that there is no 10-consecutive-day period in it.) But in any calendar year, I cannot be absent from work without pay for more than four weeks (cf. Sponsor a Tier 2 or 5 Worker: Guidance for Employers from, that is, 20 days total.

By striking, I am essentially betting against myself that I will not have any other reason to need unpaid leave in this calendar year. I'm lucky. My parents in the US are young and healthy. My spouse is young and healthy, as is my child. My in-laws, in the US, on the other hand, are not so young. For awhile it looked like my husband might be spending a good chunk of his spring/summer back in the US with them. My striking means that I couldn't go with him, unless I use up vacation days. (Thankfully, MIL is much better now.)

If we do go the full distance, and have to strike another 14 days in Easter term, I will only be able to join my colleagues for 6 of those days. I CANNOT jeopardize my and my family's right to remain in this country. And I hate that. If it comes to that, I will be donating 1/365th of my pay to the fighting fund for every day that I cannot join the strike.

My situation is not unique. There are MANY Tier 2 visa holders participating in #ussstrike #ucustrike. Don't hate us if we have to go back to work when our 20 days are used up.

For more info, read this. A sobering quote:

"Whilst there are no reported cases of strike action being used to refuse an ILR application...there are never any guarantees that the Home Office could not change its policy in the future."

This is the spectre that hangs over us.

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