Coventry lecturers strike for fair pay

Coventry lecturers strike for fair pay

13310327_1036941839716080_6004148449495610762_n

UCU strikers march through Coventry

Lecturers at Coventry’s universities took strike action today to demand a fair pay deal for staff.

Members of Coventry Socialist Students joined pickets at Coventry University to show solidarity with staff, and speaking on the picket line Kris O’Sullivan spoke about the need for a united struggle of students and lecturers for free education and fair pay.

Speakers at the picket line and at the subsequent strike meeting highlighted the three issues the UCU is striking over; the pay freeze for staff which has now been in place for 9 years, the gender pay gap between male and female academic staff, and the increasing casualisation of staff contracts throughout universities.

The strike will continue tomorrow, and lecturers will then be taking ongoing “work to rule” action as part of the dispute. It is crucial that they unite with students, as well as other workers who are taking action such as junior doctors and teachers. Socialist Students members will continue to support their lecturers!

Advertisements

Student solidarity with lecturers strike

Student solidarity with lecturers strike

13241140_1035792293164368_1128244363982047887_n

UCU members picketing at Coventry University

Coventry Socialist Students have produced the below statement in solidarity with striking lecturers this week. Please read and share, and support the strike however you can!

This week, the UCU trade union (representing academic and related workers, including many students who teach as postgrads) announced their campaign for fairer pay in higher education. They will be on strike at universities across the country on 25th-26th May, and at the same time beginning to work to rule, which means they will refuse to work overtime, set additional work or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.

Socialist Students supports the UCU in this strike as the fight for free education cannot be isolated to students alone, but must be linked to lecturers and all workers in FE/HE to fundamentally challenge the neo-liberal race to the bottom policies that are stripping away education.

Coventry University UCU will be picketing outside Graham Sutherland Building, Coventry University from 8.30-10.30 on both the strike days. Please join and show solidarity!

Fight for free education, fight for socialism!

For a fighting students union – vote Aidan for President

Vote Aidan for President – for a fighting Socialist president and a fighting students union!

11004362_1000318549998247_347955019_n

Socialist Students including Aidan (centre) fighting for decent housing

Coventry Socialist Students have decided to make a stand during this year’s Student Union elections. One of the societies organisers, Aidan O’Toole is running for the position of President on a fighting socialist platform.

Since New Labour introduced tuition fees in 1998, students have been seeing increasing attacks on their right to education, the most recent being the scrapping of maintenance grants for students who need them the most for loans instead. This will add to the high levels of debt students face and act as a massive barrier to students from working class families.

We need an education fightback, for a national campaign to stop these attacks students are facing and to bring back free education and maintenance grants. A national movement is needed to force the government to change course – by linking up with other student unions and trade unions representing staff this could be done!

A prominent issue facing students in Coventry is the circus that is the housing market. Students are faced with dodgy landlords and rogue letting agencies from all angles, and are routinely exploited with high rent, expensive agency fees and substandard conditions! Things don’t have to be this way, and Socialist Students members on the SU council including Aidan have successfully put forward motions that allow the SU to fight dodgy landlords and letting agencies like FututeLets, but they haven’t.

10404174_1015553975141371_1006655453741188377_n

Aidan (second from right) campaigning with TUC Young Workers for a £10 an hour minimum wage

A fighting Socialist president would make sure that the full weight of the SU will be fighting for better housing. As housing effects the whole of Coventry a cross city campaign, with local activist organisations and resident associations, should be organised to force the council to act in the interests of its residents and not just the landlords.

Aidan says that if elected he will follow the example set by former Coventry MP Dave Nellist, who only took a workers wage, by only taking the average income of a working student and donating the rest of the salary to causes that support students and workers.

A key demand of the campaign is the call for a £10 an hour minimum wage, which Socialist Students also proposed to the SU council and was passed as policy – however, the union has not called for the university pay all staff at least this wage. If elected Aidan will campaign for all SU and university staff to be paid at least £10 an hour as a step towards a real living wage.

Coventry University SU is bureaucratic and run by careerists, but it doesn’t have to be like this. Students can change it by getting involved in the fight for a decent future, decent jobs, decent wages and decent homes.

As Socialists, our society has decided that by raising our demands we will provide a programme of policies that will allow students to take the fight outside the bureaucratic student council and into the wider community. For a fighting SU we need a fighting Socialist! Vote Aidan for CUSU President!

image

For a president that will:

• Fight for free education and the restoration of student grants. We don’t deserve to leave university with £50k debt over our heads. We need to organise both at Coventry and also nationally to stop the Tory onslaught on our rights to education!

• Reject the full Sabb salary and only take the income of an average working student. Our representatives should not get special privileges.

• Campaign for a £10/hour min wage for SU & University workers. This is the TUC living wage. Say no to poverty wages!

• Organise against the casualisation of education. Education is not a commodity and the provision of education is not a business. A joint campaign with the UCU will unite both students and lecturers.

• Stand up to dodgy landlords and rogue letting agency’s domination the housing market. Across Coventry campaign to force the local council to tackle the housing problem, with the Tenants Union playing a central role.

Coventry students demand £10 now for uni workers

Coventry students demand £10 now for uni workers

Coventry Socialist Students members campaigning with TUC Young Workers

Coventry Socialist Students members campaigning with TUC Young Workers

This week marked another success for Coventry Socialist Students as a motion calling for a £10 an hour living wage, proposed and seconded by CSS members, passed through the students union council. We argued that the SU should campaign for the university to pay all staff at least £10/hr, the policy of the TUC (Trade Union Congress),

This motion, adding to the SU housing responsibility motion previously passed, represents another area of student’s lives which CUSU now has to campaign to improve. The motion means the union has resolved:

  • To campaign for an £10hr minimum wage for all university and CUSU staff.
  • To release a public statement criticising the university management for amassing such a great surplus revenue and not allocating it to improve the conditions of its workers.
  • To release a public statement against the pay rise of the university management whilst the average wage paid by the university to its staff has decreased.
  • To release a public statement expressing support with the UCU with their grievances, as well as calling for student and worker’s unity.
  • To mandate the Communications Officer to communicate with the UCU in regards of future co-operation about issues students or lectures face with the University management so a united front can be presented.
  • That the Union as a whole will campaign to increase student awareness on the surplus revenue the University has, the exploitation going on of workers and the importance of paying £10 an hour (TUC Living Wage).

Not only does this motion have a direct effect on students employed on campus by the university, CUSU or any outsourced services, it also has a much wider implication to the university. The motion also called for greater co-operation between CUSU and the UCU, the main Trade Union representing lectures. This is significant as it allows students and lectures greater opportunity to unite together to campaign together against the commodification of education and the ever increasing corporate style running of the university.

Furthermore, CUSU now has to publicly criticise the management for amassing over £21m in ‘surplus revenue’ last year. This is a very significant step in turning the SU into a campaigning, fighting organisation which will stick up for students even if it goes against the university management.

As a society which fights for students we will continue to work within and outside the student union to achieve our aims. If you agree with what we’re campaigning for, and want to fight for socialist change, join Socialist Students!

Socialist election campaign launched in Coventry

Socialist election campaign launched in Coventry

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

77 people attended the launch of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) election campaign in Coventry on February 25th. The Socialist Party, which organised the meeting, is standing as part of TUSC alongside the RMT trade union and many leading trade unionists.

Judy Griffiths, Coventry CWU branch secretary and prospective TUSC candidate, chaired the meeting, at which speakers from the FBU, PCS, Unison, Unite, RMT, NUT and NUS spoke (all speaking in a personal capacity), reflecting the base of TUSC and the Socialist Party in the unions across the city.

Jordan Jefferies, a sixth-form student in Coventry and a Socialist Party member, spoke about the anger felt by many young people against austerity, and said that TUSC has been amazing in attempting to engage the people who are disillusioned and disinterested in politics. People are disillusioned and angry with establishment politics and rightly so. The Socialist Party and TUSC are out to build the opposition to “business as usual”.

Nicky Downes, Coventry NUT President and prospective TUSC candidate, spoke about the effects she sees of austerity on children in her job as a teacher.

Nick Harrison, Coventry Fire Brigades Union borough rep had been on strike with his union the same day – supported on the picket lines by Socialist Party and TUSC activists – and spoke about their dispute, and the need for a viable political alternative to Labour.

Lee Cooper, RMT Coventry No.1 branch secretary, spoke about the City Link scandal, the effect it had on workers and the need for a working class political voice.

Former Labour MP and Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist spoke about the TUSC project more widely, and why it is significant in the development of a new party for ordinary people.

This meeting showed some of the appetite in Coventry for a political party that sticks up for ordinary people. Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain show the potential for building an anti-austerity alternative. The Socialist Party will build TUSC and fight for bold socialist policies to combat not just austerity, but the cause of austerity – the capitalist system.

Sign up here to get involved in the Socialist Campaign Team for the election!

Hundreds march in Coventry against cuts to local services

Hundreds march in Coventry against cuts to local services

10527801_10155177165140705_1412353416833117876_n

Coventry Against The Cuts march through the City Centre

Between 2-300 people marched through Coventry on Saturday 21st in a protest against enormous cuts to local services. The march, organised by Coventry TUC and Coventry Against the Cuts, united activists from a variety of trade unions and community campaigns. Flags and banners from Unison, Unite, FBU, NUT and other unions, as well as placards from “Save Our Libraries” campaigners showed the wide range of people who marched.

Many speakers concentrated on Coventry’s Labour council’s role in implementing Tory cuts. Socialist Party member Nicky Downes, Coventry NUT President, called for councillors to “stand up and fight”.

A Unison member who works in a library gave an impassioned speech outlining the current situation which received a loud response from the crowd.

An official from the FBU brought support from his union which was greatly appreciated – firefighters are on strike on Wednesday from 7am for 24 hours in their battle with the government.

Coventry’s Labour Council has already been forced to give some concessions to protesters such as delaying the planned cuts to disabled children’s transport and library closures for a year. This has been the result of campaigning by community groups and unions (especially Unison) across the city including thousands signing petitions and organised protests. Members of the Socialist Party and TUSC have played a role in this for example in Tile Hill and Stoke. The key thing is that protest clearly works!

JS57370295

Picture from Coventry Telegraph

The budget proposals still include plans to close or reduce many vital services, including youth centres, community centres and even public toilets.

As Dave Nellist pointed out, the council has £81million+ in reserves that they could use to fund services while building a campaign against cuts alongside the people of Coventry, to demand central Government gives our city the money we need for decent services. If our Labour councillors won’t do that, we should replace them with people who will.

One of the most lively groups on the march was a section of young Socialists, including students from Coventry and Warwick University and local sixth forms, many of whom wore bright “£10 Now” shirts to support the campaign for a £10 an hour minimum wage.

There are a number of anti-cuts events this week in Coventry, please get along and show your support for the fight against austerity!

Coventry Socialist Students continues to grow

Coventry Socialist Students continues to grow

Socialist Students stall at Cov Uni Refreshers

Socialist Students stall at Cov Uni Refreshers

Coventry Socialist Students have further built our profile at Coventry University following a successful week of campaigning and activity.

We began the week with a public meeting on the Charlie Hebdo massacre, which around 15 students came to. We discussed the attacks and how socialists should respond to terrorism and Islamophobia. In addition we made plans to build our presence on campus, especially our flagship Housing Campaign.

On Tuesday our four Student Councillors attended the SU council meeting, and all four were nominated to various committees within the SU. We will use those platforms to stick up for ordinary students, and of course to build Coventry Socialist Students (CSS). Crucially, Kristian Sucilla O’Sullivan, Sam Kempster and Mohammed Wurie were all nominated for the Housing Committee, giving us a great opportunity to keep fighting for decent housing and against dodgy landlords and letting agencies.

Sam said ”Coventry Socialist Students are the foundation and support beams of the housing campaign and that’s never going to change, however it’s a really positive step that the campaign has been taken on by the SU and that the steering committee is comprised of both CSS councillors and SU Sabbatical Officers”.

A number of our members attended an open meeting of the lecturers union (UCU) on Wednesday, along with the National Chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Dave Nellist, to continue forming links between staff and students at the university. The meeting was held by the Coventry UCU branch to bring together lecturers and workers from across the faculties under one roof to point out and discuss some of the serious problems going on behind the academic scenes.

Kristian speaking to UCU meeting on behalf of Coventry Socialist Students

Kristian speaking to UCU meeting on behalf of Coventry Socialist Students

Kristian spoke to the meeting to bring solidarity from CSS: “Students and lectures alike are being exploited in a variety of ways, from students facing overpriced sub-standard accommodation to lecturers being forced into working overtime by taking on extra admin workloads. We want to work with the UCU to bring together both these exploited groups in united struggle and point towards the real problem – the bosses upstairs.”