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!

Surge of resistance to Trump hits Coventry 

Surge of resistance to Trump hits Coventry 

Protest in Coventry city centre

With less than 24 hours notice, hundreds of people joined emergency protests in Coventry and at Warwick University against Donald Trump’s ban on people travelling to the USA from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Protest at Warwick University

These protests were part of a massive display of resistance across the UK, uniting with millions across the world. They follow the women’s marches on January 21st, when millions protested around the world – 100,000 people demonstrated in London alone. Over 1.7million people have also signed a petition against Trump’s planned state visit to the UK.

Tim Bliss from Warwick Socialist Students speaking at the protest

Trade unionists, anti-cuts campaigners and Socialist Party members spoke at the protest in Coventry, stressing the need to build a movement against racism and austerity, and for a socialist alternative to the rotten capitalist system that breeds them.

Have you signed the petition against Trump and want to build the movement against him and his policies? If so fill in the form below!

Say No to Pfizer! Coventry Socialist Students oppose private pharmaceutical corporation

Say No to Pfizer! Coventry Socialist Students oppose private pharmaceutical corporation

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Socialist Students protest against Pfizer

Today, Wednesday 19th October, Pfizer, the multi-national pharmaceutical company, held a recruitment event at Coventry University. Pfizer are renowned for employing allegedly questionable business tactics in order to make profit, including raising the price of vital medicine for epilepsy that Pfizer held a monopoly of, as well as using children in Nigeria to test dangerous new drugs on.

Hearing that Pfizer were going to be on campus, Coventry Socialist Students quickly sprang into action. Setting up mere metres from where the event was taking place, Socialist Students protested against the presence of Pfizer.

The protest attracted a lot of attention from ordinary students who agreed with Socialist Students view that the University should not be accommodating corporations which seek to profit from our National Health Service. Further attention was drawn by the University management’s attempts to get private security to remove us, claiming we were offending Pfizer and University management by protesting. For pictures of the protest click here.

All in all, it was a brilliant protest, highlighted by the fact that a large-scale corporation such as Pfizer could be intimidated by the presence of a group of students with leaflets and a table. Furthermore, it was a great success in spotlighting the opposition to capitalism on campus and introducing the ideas of the socialist alternative to ordinary students.

  • Defend the NHS, kick out the profiteers
  • Bring all pharmaceutical companies in to the public ownership! For an end to profit hungry capitalists profiting from illness
  • Fight for socialism, join Socialist Students!

Tories plan further fee hikes for uni students

Tories plan further fee hikes for uni students

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Aidan (second from right) campaigning with TUC Young Workers

The below article by Coventry Socialist Students member Aidan O’Toole was carried in this weeks issue of The Socialist newspaper. The Tories have planned further attacks on students – students need to organise to fight back.

The Tories want universities that meet their backbreaking ‘teaching excellence framework’ targets to be allowed to increase the cost of their courses with inflation. Universities including Manchester have already announced their fees will rise to £9,250 in 2017, before parliament has even considered the measure.

The future is looking bleak for young people. Houses are unaffordable, jobs are low-paid and insecure, and education is becoming more and more elitist.

Universities received £9 billion in tuition fees last year, the highest amount ever. The government has cut central funding to £3 billion.

Rising tuition fees, along with the end of student grants, are increasingly pushing working class people out of higher education. Working class and some middle class students have to decide if a life of debt is worth a degree, which isn’t a guarantee of employment. And that’s only if they can afford to rent accommodation and feed themselves during the course.

It is no surprise that Jeremy Corbyn’s call last year to scrap tuition fees resonates with so many young people. Anger is clear among students who feel like they are putting themselves in a lot of debt for not much gain. The 2016 Student Academic Experience Survey found that two thirds of students felt their degree didn’t give value for money.

The Socialist Party says education is a right and should be free for all. It should not just be a privilege for the super-rich who can afford extortionate fees and high living costs, relying of the bank of mum and dad. We fight for an end to fees, cuts and closures in higher education, for a living grant for all students, and for the return of EMA student payments in further education.