Coventry lecturers strike for fair pay

Coventry lecturers strike for fair pay

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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!

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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!

“No room for unfair housing!” – Coventry Socialist Students protest against dodgy landlords

“No room for unfair housing!” – Coventry Socialist Students protest against dodgy landlords

No room for unfair housing

No room for unfair housing

Coventry Socialist Students have been campaigning on the issue of sub-standard housing for months, so when we heard about a University-organised “housing fair” on Monday 21st, at which several landlords, letting agencies and student halls companies were advertising their services, we felt we had to protest!

A group of us hung a banner from the balcony of the University Hub which read “No room for unfair housing” and chanted slogans including “Dodgy landlords hear us say, rip off rents? No way!”

Kris O’Sullivan, President of Coventry Socialist Students and a candidate for SU Community Rep, spoke at the protest; “In Coventry, and up and down the country, the university experience is being ruined by dodgy landlords who are charging extortionate amounts of rent for often sub-standard accommodation, and regularly ignore the tenant rights of the student occupants.”

Coventry University has a 28,000 strong student population at any given time; however, there is only a limited amount of purpose-built accommodation for students, meaning the majority have to rent through private landlords.

The University’s security quickly came to get rid of us, but we weren’t going to leave until the landlords got the message!

Security tried to grab our banner

Security tried to grab our banner

We want the university to work with Coventry Council to create an accreditation scheme to register all private landlords, in accordance with SU policy. This in particular will benefit local residents as well as students, we should be united in fighting dodgy landlords. We also want to establish a democratic, student-run letting agency to provide students with an alternative to the existing providers. We also need thousands of new council homes to be built – thousands of Coventry people are on the waiting list, they deserve a decent place to live with affordable rents!

If you’re a student and you want to fight dodgy landlords, for decent housing and for socialism, join Socialist Students!

Hundreds march in Coventry against cuts to local services

Hundreds march in Coventry against cuts to local services

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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!

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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 Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport

Coventry Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport

Protestors outside the Council House

Protestors outside the Council House

Coventry Council announced today that disabled children’s transport to school will continue to be funded for at least another year, after protests over the planned cuts.

Over 50 people protested last month outside the Council House, including Socialist Students and TUSC activists as well as members of Warwick for Free Education. The protest was organised by community campaigner and DPAC member Eleanor Lisney.

This victory shows that protest and pressure works, and councils can be forced to back down over planned cuts – however, as the funding has only been guaranteed for another year it shows the importance of keeping that pressure up, both in terms of protest and electoral challenges to councillors who continue to vote for cuts.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

It is urgent that the Council use the £80million+ reserves to stop any cuts to buy time to build a mass fightback in the city, linking up with other councils, to demand proper funding from central Government.

Warwick Students Hold #CopsOffCampus Protest Against Police Brutality and for Free Education

Warwick Students Hold #CopsOffCampus Protest Against Police Brutality and for Free Education

Over 1000 students gather at Warwick for #copsoffcampus protest

Over 1000 students gather at Warwick for #copsoffcampus protest

During a peaceful sit-in at Warwick University last Wednesday (December 3rd), students were attacked by police and security guards using CS spray and drawing a taser. Video footage clearly shows police brutality, with a female protester being dragged across the room by her hair, and another student being put in a headlock and slammed to the floor by a police officer.

These actions were a disgrace, and the students rightly called a protest the day after in response. This protest was attended by over 1000 people, and a number of people spoke to the demo including Sierra Leonean activist Mohammed Wurie, who brought solidarity from Coventry University SU and Coventry Socialist Students.

After the demonstration around 200 students occupied the 2nd floor of the Rootes building, and immediately began to discuss the aims of the occupation and the movement for free education.

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Hundreds of students occupy the Rootes building at Warwick

Dan Crowter, a member of Coventry Socialist Party and TUSC local election candidate, spoke to the occupation to bring solidarity greetings. He read a solidarity statement from Dave Nellist, which was also on hundreds of Socialist Students leaflets that were given out (click here to read the statement)

At the Socialist Students national conference on Saturday this motion of solidarity with Warwick students was passed unanimously:

The right to protest on campus

Proposed by Warwick University Socialist Students

Conference notes:

  1. The brutal treatment of Warwick university students at the hands of police during an occupation calling for free education
  2. Similar violence suffered by students at Lancaster, Manchester and Sheffield universities as well as elsewhere
  3. The defiant, 1000+ strong protest organised by Warwick students in response to this assault on their democratic rights
  4. The solidarity demonstrations organised elsewhere in the country, including London
  5. Last year, students responded to police brutality with a wave of ‘cops off campus’ demonstrations
  6. There are ongoing attempts to undermine the right to protest, including (but not limited to):
  • Police violence used against demonstrators
  • Kettling and other repressive policing techniques
  • The criminalisation and imprisonment of peaceful protesters
  • Repressive anti-trade union legislation

Conference believes:

  1. Attacks on democratic rights have gone hand in hand with austerity and are designed to weaken and repress attempts to fight back

Conference resolves:

  1. To send a message of solidarity to the students at Warwick as well as around the country who have suffered these attacks over the last week
  2. To continue to organise and mobilise for ‘cops off campus’ protests around the country in response to these attacks
  3. To follow this up with a day of action in the new year which raises the demand for free education and an end to austerity, alongside defending the right to protest on campuses.”
Socialist Students national conference showing solidarity with Warwick students

Socialist Students national conference showing solidarity with Warwick students

It is clear that the police were told to back off on Thursday after the events of Wednesday, with only a small number of Police Liaison Officers visibly present. This shows the power we have – when there’s a mass occupation, police keep their distance. It is crucial to harness the power that we hold, especially those who may be new to political activity.

We need to organise more mass demonstrations and occupations as part of a wider movement to fight for free education and to change society.