Report and pictures from university strike action at Coventry and Warwick

Report and pictures from university strike action at Coventry and Warwick 

Picket at University of Warwick

Picket at University of Warwick

Today industrial took place at Higher Education institutions across the country involving members of UCU, Unison and Unite. There were pickets at both Coventry University and the University of Warwick. Members of the Socialist Party visited the picket lines to show support, whilst Socialist Student groups at both universities, together with Socialist Party youth members worked hard to build links between students and university workers on the day and beforehand.

Report from University of Warwick

By M Best

Socialist Students at Warwick build support

Socialist Students at Warwick build support

The mood was clear at the picket at Warwick today, there is a drastic need to take action to defend peoples jobs. The issue of a pay cut was just as important for lecturers and staff becoming increasingly unsure of whether they will get enough work during the quiet periods such as the summer. The issue of people on zero hour contracts and increased casualisation were also mentioned. The idea of a general strike, getting everyone out together, to face the attacks which are the same in every industry struck a chord with the workers.

One picketer told me
“It’s sad that the university can’t support its staff the way the staff supports it. People say if you can’t pay for the best then you won’t get the best, so we can’t be the best. If an employer said to you would you take a job that in 4 years we’ll pay you 14% less you wouldn’t take it. A lot of people can’t afford these cuts. There are people having to choose between heating and eating. And we’re having staff at a top university have to make that decision. Its those lowest paid workers at the bottom who can’t afford the pay cuts.”

Report from Coventry University

Picket near the Alan Berry Building at Coventry University

Picket near the Alan Berry Building at Coventry University

There were a number of pickets across the campus of Coventry University, as union members gave out leaflets to students explaining why there were going on strike. Members of Unison from the Coventry District (council) branch attended to show support. Socialist Students members joined the picket to bring solidarity from students.

Members of Socialist Students / SP youth members

Members of Socialist Students / SP youth members

The question of unions from different sectors co-ordinating their many disputes came up time and time again. The need for co-ordination action is not just a good idea, it is a burning necessity which would raise the collective confidence of all workers in the fight against capitalist austerity measures.

One of the leaflets that was distributed

One of the leaflets that was distributed

Socialist Party members in the education unions, together with Socialist Students across the campuses, will continue to argue for worker – student solidarity. This is not just a fight for terms and conditions, but a battle to defend education.

If you want to help us, or to join / get more info about the fight for socialism, fill in the form below and we will contact you

 

 

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Letter in Coventry Telegraph supporting Brand’s call for revolution

Letter in Coventry Telegraph supporting Brand’s call for revolution

Brand

Brand

The following short letter appeared in the Coventry Telegraph newspaper today (Weds 30th October) from Socialist Party member Dan Crowter. We urge you to join the fight for socialism. Please fill in the details in the box below. 

It’s not often you turn on the TV and see a comedian calling for revolution, but that’s exactly what Russell Brand said on Newsnight last week! His passionate call for equality struck a chord with millions of people.

Our society is run by the super-rich. They control the economy, the media and our political parties. They caused the banking crisis, but we’re the ones paying for it! Russell Brand might not be right about everything, but he’s right that things need to change. We need a socialist system that helps the millions, not the millionaires.

Dan Crowter

University Workers to Strike Back

University Workers to Strike Back

UCU banner

UCU banner

By A Socialist Party Member in UCU in the Coventry area

31 October will be a day of coordinated strike action by UCU, Unison and Unite members working in Universities. This is the first UK-wide joint action between these Higher Education unions, demonstrating the anger that their members feel about the employers’ insulting 1% pay increase.

Even pro-capitalist commentator Will Hutton, writing in the Observer notes that “The real wages of academics have fallen by 13% since 2008, one of the largest sustained wage cuts any profession has suffered since the Second World War.” This is despite the scandalously high fees charged to students, which have subsidised lavish pay at the upper echelons of University management while ordinary teaching, research, and support staff struggle.

We want a publicly funded system of Higher Education, free at the point of use and paying a fair wage to its workers. In addition to real-terms pay cuts, casualisation of all jobs is rife in the sector, including use of fixed-term, hourly-paid and even the now-infamous ‘zero hours’ contracts. This job insecurity together with management bullying and excessive workloads will also motivate UCU members to undertake a ‘work to contract’ following the strike day.

Many student organisations, including official students’ unions, have offered support. It will be vital to build on these links and make clear to students that this industrial action strengthens their fight for free education, particularly if exam marking ends up being affected. Already propaganda about the USS pension scheme has tried to pit students against staff – in fact this scheme is healthy in any reasonable measure, and a bizarre accounting practice is being used to claim students will end up ‘bailing out’ their lecturers’ pensions. Nothing could be further from the truth, but this and similar falsehoods will be peddled by the ConDem Government and their media chums if the dispute continues.

This and other elements of a serious fighting strategy could see a victory in the form of a significantly improved pay offer. But ultimately the dispute has arisen from the politics of austerity and we need to make links with other unions – our members already look to the disputes that other unions are involved in -and the call for a one-day general strike against austerity is gaining ground. Socialists in Higher Education unions will fight to make it a reality.

Coventry and Warwick Socialist Students call for support for Higher Education Strike

Socialist Students call for support for Higher Education Strike

UCU, Unite and Unison will be taking action

UCU, Unite and Unison will be taking action

The following article was written by a member of Socialist Students, who are active at both Coventry University and Warwick University.

On Thursday 31st of October workers at universities up and down the country are out on strike. Members of UCU, Unison and Unite are taking action together to end the pay freeze which has meant incomes have not kept up with rising prices. This amounts to a real terms cut of 14% since 2009!

While ordinary staff members have been bearing the brunt of the government’s attacks, Warwick Vice Chancellor Nigel Thrift awarded himself a whopping £40,000 payrise last year!

Its one rule for those at the top while the rest of us have to suffer.

Although the dispute is officially about pay, workers all over are facing issues of increased workloads, zero hour contracts and bullying and discrimination. It isn’t just education the government is dedicated to selling off or destroying, postal workers, council workers, NHS workers, etc are all being punished by the Con-Dems for a crisis they didn’t cause.

Students need to support staff on this day. This strike action should be seen as part of the battle for a decent education system. This is the government that tripled fees and are looking for more ways to get students in debt with the sell-off of the student loan book. This strike is an important step in the fightback to save our education system.

Students should:

-Join lecturers and other staff on the picket lines to show solidarity.

-Don’t use university services or go to any lectures.

-Help Socialist Students build support for the strike – sign our message of support.

Socialist Students will be on campus on the days running up to the strike and supporting picket lines on the day. You can sign one of our petitions, or fill in the form at the end of this article to send a message of support, we will pass it on to the unions.

Email us at Warwicksocialiststudents@gmail.com for Warwick, and coventrysocialists@googlemail.com for Coventry to get involved!

Please click here to read an article on the Socialist Students website by NUS NEC member Edmund Schluessel (personal capacity)

Fill in the form to send a message of support!

Coventry Socialists welcome Russell Brand’s call for revolution

Coventry Socialists welcome Russell Brand’s call for revolution

Russell Brand v Paxman (photo from Huffington Post)

Russell Brand v Paxman (photo from Huffington Post)

Russell Brand has hit the headlines but not for the reasons you may come to expect from the comedian and actor. In an interview with Jeremy Paxman of Newsnight (click here for Youtube footage) Brand lays in to the present political and economic system and makes bold calls for revolution and a socialist egalitarian system. He eloquently expresses the disillusionment with mainstream political parties, addressing why many people do not currently vote and expresses support for the Occupy movement for putting on the agenda the idea of the 1 per cent against the 99 per cent.

Brand states correctly that the system is destroying the planet and makes many excellent points about the huge disparities in wealth. His ideas are not fully worked out and the Socialist Party would not agree with every single point – however we wholeheartedly welcome Brand’s comments which will no doubt express the anger that many millions of people in Britain and across the world feel towards the political elite and the capitalist system where a tiny minority own and control the wealth, leaving the rest of us struggling to get by.

To many his interview will be seen as a breath of fresh air compared to the stale, turgid ‘same old same old’ put forward by the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour.

His comments should be seen as a contribution to the debate about the need to change society, how we go about it and the need for a socialist society.

We urge people who are interested in changing society to consider joining the Socialist Party, which is part of a worldwide movement for socialist change. Nothing will change unless we make it. Click here for more information and to join

Government ignores hungry children

Government ignores hungry children

This article by Coventry Socialist Party and NUT (personal capacity) member Nicky Downes, originally appeared in ‘The Socialist’ newspaper. It reveals the stark reality in Coventry and across the UK today. If this does not make you angry then you are not paying attention! But don’t just get angry, consider joining the Socialist Party – click here

A growing reality

A growing reality

By Nicky Downes

I have been teaching in the same primary school for 19 years. It is in one of the poorest wards in Britain, St Michaels in Coventry. Over time, I have seen the growing effect of child poverty on our school community.

My union, the NUT, in conjunction with the Daily Mirror and the Child Poverty Action Group, asked me to complete a survey on the issue.

The results should shame any government, but particularly one of a country that remains one of the richest in the world.

Teachers’ views

1,700 teachers were surveyed and 85.5% have seen children coming to school hungry; 77% have seen parents unable to afford the school uniform and a shocking 91.7% believe benefit cuts will have a negative impact on children at their school.

You can tell when a child is hungry – their head drops onto the table by morning break and again shortly after lunch.

Hunger directly affects concentration and attainment. I’ve looked in children’s lunch boxes on occasion and found one slice of buttered bread.

These are often children whose families are not entitled to free school meals. We regularly, as a school, refer families to the CAB and we know that a number of our families are regular users of food banks.

If a child goes without breakfast and we know about it, we will provide them with one. If they have no or little lunch, we provide them with one but who knows what they get for dinner.

Providing all Key Stage 1 children with a free school meal is a start but children do not stop being hungry at the age of seven. And what happens to them in the holidays?

We’ve just started a new school year. Most of our parents will have gone and bought new school jumpers, trousers and shoes, etc.

This year, more than any other, I have seen children arrive back in September in the same ripped and stained jumper which is now further up their arms. It’s incredibly sad to see.

Whose fault?

None of this is because the parents lack parental skills or are poor managers of their household budget as Gove would have you think.

Their housing benefit is cut because they are hit by the bedroom tax, or their entitlement to benefits is non-existent or reduced, or they are working in incredibly low-paid jobs.

We make days at school happy. We take our students on subsidised trips and have a ‘forest school’ that enhances their outdoor learning but the expectation is for accelerated learning and rigorous target setting.

They are, in effect, expected to make more progress than kids eating regular meals with home access to the internet and support from tutors paid for by their parents.

Fundamentally, however, the government has and continues to make a choice to ignore hungry, undernourished children.

They choose to blame the poorest parents for the crisis instead of ensuring that every family has a roof over their head, food and warmth in the winter.

 

Coventry Socialists – building support for an alternative to capitalism

Coventry Socialists – building support for an alternative to capitalism

Party members selling 'The Socialist' newspaper - the Socialist Voice of workers and youth

Party members selling ‘The Socialist’ newspaper – the Socialist Voice of workers and youth

Members of the Socialist Party were out in Coventry city centre today as well as other locations across the area, building support for socialist ideas in opposition to the capitalist system.

Party member Dan Crowter who is also a leading figure in the Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax campaign, commented

What is striking is the anger out there. With the recent announcements from the utility companies that they are going to raise their already high prices even further, many people will be forced to ‘heat or eat’ this winter. None of the big three parties are talking about the solution – which would be to bring all privatised utilities back in to public ownership run under democratic workers control. But little wonder they are not talking about public ownership – to one extent or another they all support the capitalist system!

But we in the Socialist Party would say it is not enough to get angry. We have to get organised and to build the socialist opposition to capitalism. Capitalism and all the misery that goes with it will not just disappear. I would urge all of those thousands of people who regularly vote Socialist in Coventry to seriously consider helping the socialist cause. For example by donating to our funds, subscribing to ‘The Socialist’ newspaper, and also by joining the Socialist Party.

To donate click here

To subscribe to ‘The Socialist’ newspaper click here

To join / get more information about joining click here