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.
Strong support for lecturers strike at Warwick Uni
Warwick Socialist Students members join students and lecturers on the picket line
Students joined striking lecturers at Warwick University this week on the picket lines of their strike against pension cuts. Members of Warwick Socialist Students and the Socialist Party attended to show support and solidarity with the workers.
Students have also been attacked by this Tory government and need to stand with workers to defeat them on this and other issues. An all-out strike of students and workers could bring this government to its knees.
The University and College union (UCU) has planned another 12 days of strike action, continuing on Monday 26th – Wednesday 28th February. Wednesday 28th at Warwick is the university’s open day, and a large picket and protest is planned.
Warwick protest greets Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev
Warwick Socialist Students join the protest
A protest was held this evening at Warwick University, against Israeli Ambassador to the the UK, Mark Regev who was addressing a meeting held on the campus.
Regev, a former spokesperson for Binyamin Netanyahu, is known for his defence of Israeli state terror on the Palestinian population, including the various wars against the people living in Gaza.
Protestors included members of the UCU branch on campus, activists from various solidarity campaigns around the Coventry area and were joined by students including Warwick Socialist Students.
Given Israel’s ongoing Occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, typified by the arrest of Ahed Tamimi and many other child prisoners it was right that a protest took place. Combine this with the government’s attempts to deport thousands of refugees from Eritrea and Sudan to Rwanda or Uganda (which has been condemned by Holocaust survivors), it was important that Regev’s visit did not go unchallenged.
Warwick Socialist Students, with members of the Socialist Party, will continue to build the solidarity movement with the Palestinian people, whilst at the same time building support for a revolutionary socialist alternative to end the Occupation and put an end to capitalism in the Middle East and here in the UK.
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!
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!
Hundreds march in Coventry against cuts to local services
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!
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.
Nigel Thrift, Warwick Uni’s inappropriately named Vice Chancellor, has once again given himself a pay rise – from £332K to £348K a year! Since Thrift began his term as VC in 2006, his salary has increased by 26% – while other workers at the university have seen their pay decrease by 6-7% in real terms. However, there are almost 160 members of staff at the uni earning over £100K – and one unnamed staff member on an unbelievable £370K – even more than Thrift! These staff were paid £21million between them – at the same time as lecturers saw their pay cut, and staff employed by “Unitemps” were put on zero-hour contracts.
Thrift recently defended the university’s decision to set police on peaceful protesters, despite the police CS spraying and attacking them. He also oversaw the University taking out an injunction against protesters who were occupying the Rootes building, and the disgraceful decision by Unitemps not to pay staff whose shifts were cancelled due to the closure of the building.
While students have to pay £9,000 fees, and lecturers are having their pay cut, it’s nice to see Nigel putting that money to good use!
Coventry Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport
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
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
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.
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
The brutal treatment of Warwick university students at the hands of police during an occupation calling for free education
Similar violence suffered by students at Lancaster, Manchester and Sheffield universities as well as elsewhere
The defiant, 1000+ strong protest organised by Warwick students in response to this assault on their democratic rights
The solidarity demonstrations organised elsewhere in the country, including London
Last year, students responded to police brutality with a wave of ‘cops off campus’ demonstrations
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
Attacks on democratic rights have gone hand in hand with austerity and are designed to weaken and repress attempts to fight back
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
To continue to organise and mobilise for ‘cops off campus’ protests around the country in response to these attacks
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
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.
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