Students and workers unite for huge protest at Warwick Uni

Students and workers unite for huge protest at Warwick Uni

Students and staff marching at Warwick

On the 5th day of the UCU strikes, students and University staff organised a massive demonstration in Warwick University today. Despite the cold and snow, there was a great turnout to the demonstration that followed the picket lines, which well over 100 people attended. After chanting and listening to UCU members, a huge contingent of students and staff marched around the University campus, showing their determination in fighting against the pension cuts.

This vibrant and energetic march ended outside the University House. Jane Nellist, NUT executive member for the West Midlands and a Socialist Party member, delivered a brilliant and inspirational speech to the students and lecturers at the of the demonstration, bringing solidarity from trade unions. She rightly pointed out the importance of uniting all forces of society against cuts and austerity policies imposed by the Tories and the fat-cats. Undoubtedly, the neoliberal agenda of the Tories is attacking every aspect of life, including universities and public services.

 

Jane Nellist speaking at the protest

Yesterday there was news that UCU and Universities UK (UUK) have agreed to attempt arbitration through the industrial conciliation service Acas. The upcoming days will show us what will come out of these discussions. At the time being, however, picket lines are planned for next week commencing the 5th of March. But in any case, students and University staff have proved today their determination to fight back against any cuts imposed by the government, and have shown the fact that working people will win if they are all united.

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The disgusting appointment of Toby Young

The disgusting appointment of Toby Young

Toby Young – photo from New Statesman

A young socialist and trade union member who works in a Coventry school in gives his views on the controversial appointment of Toby Young.

There are plenty of repulsive individuals who haunt the corridors of power, but some seem unable to maintain the pretence of competence for long enough to become a right-wing MP. One of these individuals is “The Honourable” Toby Young, who has inexplicably been appointed to the board of the newly-created “Office for Students”.

Young’s odious nature is obvious to anyone unfortunate enough to have come across him, and a brief scan of his Twitter history might have sufficed to demonstrate it to those who hadn’t – however, for some reason Young has decided to delete around 50,000 of his tweets. We can’t possibly think why this might be – but The Independent has helpfully listed some of his now departed online musings here.

Some notable comments he’s made include commenting on the “cleavage” of female Labour MP’s – on at least two occasions! -, claiming that he had his “d**k up the a**e” of a woman standing next to him in a picture, commenting on director Danny Boyle’s underage daughter’s breasts, and referring to disabled students as “illiterate troglodytes” in an article in The Spectator.

These comments would very likely be enough to get a public sector worker sacked for gross misconduct. As the son of a Baron, presumably Young’s only punishment for these “errors of judgement” is that he isn’t a Government minister yet. Ironically Young’s father, Baron Young, coined the term “meritocracy” – Young Jr.’s persistent presence in public life is perhaps the ultimate proof that meritocracy does not exist. Unsurprisingly, the Government’s court jester Boris Johnson is one of the few people to spring to Young’s defence, referring to his “caustic wit” – presumably Boris agrees that “caustic wit” is required to mock people who may struggle with reading when writing in a national magazine.

Young’s bizarre appointment has drawn attention to the Office for Students (OFS) as a whole. Looking at the 15 board members, not one represents an educational union, such as the UCU. Not one represents a students union, such as the NUS – in fact only one of the board members is a student! This begs the question, what exactly is the point of the OFS and whose interests will it be serving?

Young wrote a memoir called “How To Lose Friends And Alienate People”, believing the title to be a self-deprecating joke. Unfortunately for him, it’s a fairly accurate description of what much of the political class thinks of him – but what most ordinary people think of him is far more damning. Toby Young must go – and the OFS can’t be trusted to represent the interests of students and lecturers. Only students and lecturers organising against university fees, dodgy landlords and casualisation will result in any serious gains for ordinary people in higher education.

Join Socialist Students at Coventry and Warwick!

Join Socialist Students at Coventry and Warwick!

Socialist Students

Socialist Students on the march

By Berkay, Warwick Socialist Students

The surge in the popularity of Corbyn’s policies signifies the revival of socialist ideas within the younger generation. But for the people in the socialist movement this is not a surprise.

The rise of Corbyn and the fight for socialism

After decades of attacks on working-class people, living standards for the majority of people have fallen to low levels. Students have also taken a big hit from these attacks caused by the neo-liberal capitalist agenda. The rocketing tuition fees and sky-high rents, combined with zero-hour contracts, have led to the deterioration of the conditions of students throughout the country. Not only the life for students has worsened, the quality of education has also gone down.

In this respect, it is not a surprise at all to see young people showing interest in the politics of Socialist Students. In fact, this interest was perceived by us prior to the rise of the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn. This was shown by the increasing frequency of student demonstrations over the past couple of years and the increase in student activism. Undoubtedly, the Coventry and Warwick Universities have been a hotspot in the fight for free education in this period.

Students must get organised

And now a new academic year is starting. Campuses are being filled by excited new students who are inspired by socialist ideas. The tide is turning and being organised is more important than ever before. Socialist Students is an organisation attempting to bring positive, socialist change to the society that we all live in. It is a growing group and has started to have much more influence on campuses; it shows a good example to other students with its determination in defending the rights of students.

First meetings of term at both universities

Accordingly, the Socialist Students are holding their first meetings of the year on the week commencing the 2nd October.

The first meeting of the year at Coventry University will be on Monday 2nd October at 18:30 in The Castle Grounds, CV1 2UR.  The meeting will be on socialism, where we will discuss how socialism is possible and why we should fight for it. This discussion will also include many contemporary events such as the recent general election and the rise of Corbyn.

A similar meeting will also be organised on Thursday 5th October at Warwick University. The meeting will begin on 18:00 in H0.03, in the Humanities building. The possibilities of a socialist revolution will be discussed in this session.

These meetings will be an immense opportunity for new students to ask questions and join the discussion with regards to Socialist Students or about socialism, revolution and Marxism in general. Hope to see you in these meetings!

We urge you to get involved in Socialist Students, fill in the form below

Young people – fight for a future, fight for socialism!

Young people – fight for a future, fight for socialism! 

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Young Socialists on the march in London

We are pleased to publish the following article from this weeks The Socialist newspaper, which was written by one of our young members in Coventry.

Young people in the UK have faced brutal attacks from successive governments on our living standards and our futures. The introduction of university tuition fees by New Labour, paving the way for the Tory-Lib Dem coalition to triple fees to £9,000 a year, has left those of us who want to get a degree with a lifetime of crippling debt.
Bosses exploit us with poverty pay, zero-hour contracts and in the insecure ‘gig economy’, further threatening the few rights we have. Housing benefit for under 21s has been axed and for most people under 35 is limited to paying for a single room in a shared house – so many young people are forced to live at their parents’ home.

Jeremy Corbyn’s policies have offered a beacon of hope to youth that change is possible. While not committing to scrapping student debt is disappointing, abolishing tuition fees would be a huge step forward and empower the rest of us to demand that our debts are wiped as well.

That’s why the Young Socialists support his leadership and policies but will be campaigning to go further and demand the scrapping of all tuition fees and student debt, an immediate £10 an hour minimum wage with no exceptions, an end to zero-hour contracts, and trade union rights for all.

If capitalism ‘can’t afford’ our demands, then we can’t afford the profit system – that’s why we fight for socialism, for the economy and society to be run by and for “the many, not the few”.

Young Socialists will be meeting and organising stalls and protests in Coventry over the summer – if you want to know more, fill in the contact form below! 

 

Nick Clegg loses his seat! A debt ridden student celebrates

Nick Clegg loses his seat! A debt ridden student celebrates

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Nick Clegg loses seat

We are extremely pleased to publish this article by Aidan, a leading member of Socialist Students in Coventry. More comment and analysis on the election will follow


I write this as a student who has just finished 3 years of university and now weighed down by tens of thousands pounds worth of debt. Bye bye Nick Clegg! Enjoy the dustbin of history.

Nick Clegg has lost his parliamentary seat of Sheffield Hallam to Labour, a significant loss for the Liberal Democrat party and an overdue reward for his attacks on young people whilst propping up the tories during the 2010-2015 coalition.

Like so many young people in 2010, I was a member of the “I agree with Nick” crew. The promise of free university education, a fundamental right for everyone, along with a manifesto that at the age of 14 I thought was to the left of what Labour was offering was enough for me to support the Lib Dems.

Just as these promises got a younger me to support the Lib Dems, so too did Clegg’s betrayal and the tripling of university fees, plus the propping up of a vicious Tory government, pushed me towards socialist ideas. The Lib Dems showed their true colours, orange on the outside and blue on the inside. Like so many young people, as evidenced by the student protests in 2011 at the increase of tuition fees, I learnt that capitalist politicians cannot be trusted.

Socialist Students have been fighting against the effects of the coalition and the regressive ‘reforms’ that they made to higher education.

Here at Coventry University working class students will be celebrating Nick Clegg’s loss. They will potentially leave university with over £50k worth of debt, having their living conditions squeezed with maintenance loans that in some case only just cover the cost of rent and the prospects of finding a stable post-graduate career is just a dream.

I was fortunate to have a part-time job to help me with the costs, however like so many students who had to do bar or retail work this is a massive time commitment, and when you are stressing about coursework deadlines or an upcoming exam the last thing you want to do is be wasting valuable revision or study time and go to work to be paid a poor wage to afford your education.

As well as these direct effects on students living standards the commodification of education that the Lib Dems supported and made possible has encouraged a business-like nature to Coventry University that again has affected students from working class backgrounds.

Instead of the university seeing itself as providing a public service, it is now run like a for-profit business. Students are treated as piggy-banks to have money squeezed out of them. This is evident in the housing sector where Futurelets, the letting agency that has the university as its sole shareholder, charges extortionate rents and charge admin fees of unheard of levels. They charge hundreds of pounds in some cases, but no one really knows what work they do to justify that!

Staff are treated like in any other business, with an article in the Guardian (27/11/2016) comparing Coventry University’s management to Sports Direct! Finally, and most tellingly, the University is now cutting the Hardship fund, a fund given to those students most in need, to basically non-existence. This is a move that has shocked Student Unions up and down the country as when approached by Coventry University Students Union they can’t believe the callousness of this move. The harm this will cause Coventry students is no-way worth the small amount of money the university will save! Not that with a profit of over £25m Coventry University needs to save money!

Coventry Socialist Students have been on the fore-front of resisting all these issues. Whether it is for free-education, to tackle the housing crisis in Coventry for students and local residents, supporting the lecturers and their union (UCU) or fighting for the protection of the Hardship Fund, we are campaigning against things that can be blamed on Clegg and the Lib Dems propping up the Tories. Students and young people will not shed a tear over him getting the sack from parliament.

This election electrified young people with a youth turnout at unheard of levels. Young people have responded to the socialist policies of Jeremy Corbyn: Free Education, mass house building to tackle the housing crisis and a £10hr minimum wage for all, not just the over 25s!

We will be supporting these demands on our campus and nationally and students haven’t forgotten Clegg’s betrayal. Only socialist ideas have the answers for young and working class people so let’s fight for them!

Get involved, fill in the form below!

Why young people should support Jeremy Corbyn

Why young people  should support Jeremy Corbyn

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Young people in Coventry protesting against Tory cuts to their future

We have received this article from Dan, a young worker and trade union member in Coventry


Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies have inspired people across the country and around the world. Young people especially have been supportive of Jeremy’s ideas, attending rallies and campaigning for him in the general election. One poll suggests that 68% of people aged 18-24 will vote Labour, 52% ahead of the Tories!

So why should young people support Jeremy? Politicians have lied to us before, so many of us don’t trust a word any of them say. Nick Clegg said he’d scrap tuition fees – that pledge lasted about a week into his coalition with David Cameron and the Tories. But in this election we’re not being offered the Tories, Diet Tories and Tory Zero – there’s a clear choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, and the policies they’re running on.

Jeremy wants to scrap tuition fees, abolish graduate debt and bring in a National Education Service – for free education for everyone, “from the cradle to the grave”. Compare that to what we have now – if you go to uni you could leave with £50 grand of debt round your neck! He also wants to scrap exploitative zero-hour contracts and increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour.

Corbyn’s policies have a lot to offer young people, and give a glimpse of what can be achieved by using some of the wealth in this country – the 6th richest country on earth. But we believe we need to go further to truly change our society, and fight for a socialist system. Rather than the chaos of the markets dictating what resources are available, that means taking the wealth off the 1%, taking the banks and big businesses into public ownership and running them democratically in the interests “of the many, not the few”.

Do you agree with Jeremy? Want to join the fight for socialism? Fill in the form below!

Socialist receives over 300 votes for President of Students’ Union

Socialist receives over 300 votes for President of Students’ Union

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Aidan O’Toole (right) campaigning in solidarity with South African students

Socialist Student members received good results in this year’s Coventry University Students’ Union executive elections, with Aidan O’Toole receiving 307 votes for President (14 per cent). Another Socialist, Sam Kempster, scored a very respectable 102 votes for the position of Vice President of Education.

These results reflect the hard work that Socialist Students have carried out over the year, campaigning on many issues and also it shows the appeal of socialist policies to students who have seen attacks to their rights and living conditions. Tuition fees are set to increase year on year, grants have been cut for the poorest students who now have to take out additional loans and are facing exploitation in the housing sector.

Our campaign was focused on these issues, building on our campaigning work and raising the banner of socialism to a wider audience of students. At the heart of it, we argued that CUSU should take a lead in standing up for students, standing up to the university management when they attack student welfare and taking part in national campaigns for free education.

Students and Workers Unite!

Vital to the work of Socialist Students has been to work with the local University and College Union (UCU) branch, something CUSU consistently fails to do. Instead of working with the lecturers to ensure that both students and lecturers can work together to tackle joint issues. CUSU is seen by some students as the puppet of the university as it time and time again refuses to show solidarity with the UCU in times such as those reported in the Guardian when the university tries its hand at union busting and attacks the rights of its employees (27/09/2016).

Socialist Students, despite receiving little support from within the student council, worked with and supported the UCU and have been consistent in attending UCU picket lines and have organised joint events to foster links between students and staff. We said that if we were elected we would have worked with the UCU to fight back and university cuts, which will become more vital when the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) threatens more attacks on both students and staff.

Housing

Coventry Socialist Students are well known for campaigning on housing issues in Coventry. We have successfully shifted CUSU policy towards housing via grass-roots organisation. This has led to the establishment of a Tenant’s Union which, although in its early days, has the potential to lead campaigns to tackle the exploitation students face in the private sector.

Despite CUSU’s support of this, not enough has been done to ensure its success. Socialist union officers would get involved in things like the tenant’s union and get stuck into any campaigns it leads on. Unfortunately this cannot be said for the vast majority of the CUSU leadership. However, we will continue to work on this issue and stay involved in the struggle against dodgy landlords and rogue letting agencies.

Defending Student Welfare

The university has decided to make vicious cuts to welfare schemes, such as the hardship fund, which will stop many students from being able to finish their education. This cut back is so severe that, despite increasing student numbers, the fund is to be halved year on year until it is only just a fraction of what one of the university CEOs make! This saving is unnecessary and shows naked profiteering which will primarily affect people with caring responsibilities or are survivors of domestic abuse and other unforeseen circumstances.

Socialist Students passed a motion calling for the Students’ Union to organise a campaign against this cut, and a vote of no confidence in the university management if they continue down this line. However, this Students’ Union campaign is nowhere to be seen. We stood to defend this scheme and students were shocked when we told them about these attacks! The

The election is over, but our work doesn’t stop

As a Socialist Students society, we don’t stay quiet all year and pretend to be the saviour around election time. We stand up for students by putting forward a socialist agenda in all our campaigns, all year round. This track record is unmatched on campus and is only partially reflected in our votes.

Despite not teaming up with other candidates just to get votes, or taking part in other tricks that are rife in student politics; we pulled a respectable vote. This is because our socialist agenda connected to those students we spoke to who are facing the hard edge of the recent attacks to their rights.

Aidan, Sam and all Socialist Students would like to say ‘thank you’ to all of those hundreds of students who voted for us.

We encourage all those who agreed with our manifesto to get involved and continue the fight for socialism. With the Tories in power, the attacks on students’ rights will continue and it will become more important than ever that students organise against these attacks. The only way to do that is by putting forward socialist ideas, and the best way to do that is to join the Socialist Students!

Join Socialist Students, fill in the form below!