CovUniShame! Lecturers and students Say No to Coventry University union busting

CovUniShame! Lecturers and students Say No to Coventry University union busting

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Saying no to sham ‘unions’

Last Wednesday saw an energetic protest outside the Graham Sutherland Building at Coventry University against the University’s anti-union actions. The protest was lively and included a wide range of speakers, from the local and national University and College Union, the TUC, the Socialist Party and Socialist Students plus others.

Coventry University Union Busting

Coventry University has become infamous for its attempts to undermine trade unions, such as last year when it tried to sack a group of English pre-sessional teachers for exercising their legal right to collective representation by UCU. This attempted was defeated by the grass-roots campaigning of the Coventry UCU branch leaving a sour taste in the mouths of the University management.

This is evident by the current actions of the Coventry University and its current attempts at union busting. The University has, in a covert move to undermine the UCU, recognised its Staff Consultative Group (SCG) as a trade union and thus signed a recognition agreement with it.

As Dave Nellist (Ex-Labour MP) argued at the protest, this is not acceptable. Dave said that “This is about control” and that “There is a difference between an employers union and a trade union, and a lot of space between the two”. By secretly recognising the SCG as a union, the University seeks to undermine the grassroots work and organisation of the local UCU, by setting up a sham ‘union’ that is entirely controlled by the University. This is comparable to the scab unions set up during the miner strike to damage the work of the NUM and the strikers.

The marketisation of education

This situation should come as no surprise, and if not defeated at Coventry could become the norm nationally. Since the election of Thatcher and then continued under the Blair / Brown New Labour years and accelerated under the Conservative – Liberal coalition, education has been increasingly treated like many other public services, with increasing privatisation and business style-managment.

Coventry University has been a prime example of this where the management treat the University like a business, causing the Guardian to compare it to the management of Sports Direct (27/11/2016). The University management receive pay rises and salaries into the hundreds of thousands, while the working conditions of ordinary staff are attacked. This is clear when seeing the massive shift away from giving staff salaried contracts and instead increasing the presence of hourly-paid lecturers.

The Coventry Socialist Students group has a proud track record of opposing these changes over the last few years and has always supported the UCU in any action they have taken.

Students and Workers Unite and Fight

The key to fighting against these sort of attacks is with grass-roots organisation, linking up the student and labour movement. As Aidan O’Toole (Socialist Students Steering Committee) stated at the demo, “The University management doesn’t fear meetings or negotiations alone, it fears public protests and the mobilisation of its staff and students. This is the key to fighting for a more democratic University and protecting the working conditions of University staff.”

The Socialist Party and Socialist Students have always made a point to argue this and, unlike the NUS, have given full support to the UCU’s national strike over attacks to its members pensions; as well as supporting this demonstration.

It is key to highlight that these attacks on University staff are not in the interest of the staff themselves, or the students they teach, but only go to help the University management in turning Coventry University more into a business.

National Demonstration

The UCU has called a national demonstration in Coventry at 1pm on the 16th of May, assembling outside the Graham Sutherland building, to further highlight the actions of the University. We fully support this call and urge that University staff, students and everyone who supports the fight for independent trade unions and is against capitalism destroying our education, to attend.

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Coventry Socialists join protest against increased charges for children’s disability transport

Coventry Socialists join protest against increased charges for children’s disability transport

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Refused and charged for transport

Earlier this week a protest took place outside the council house in Coventry. Michael Morgan, who will be standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in Henley ward, has written this report.


Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn it is fantastic and indeed very positive that we now have a Labour leader talking about anti austerity policies against the continued cuts of the Conservative government.

Unfortunately this is not yet translating to a fightback against austerity at a local level with Labour councillors carrying on as before. In this case they are planning to charge disabled children’s families up to £600 for transport services to school once they are 16 years old.

This is at the same time as the council holds reserves of over £100 million! They still prefer to pursue what some have labelled vanity projects, such as buying Coombe Abbey Hotel, than to effectively oppose Tory cuts. They then continue to claim that they must increase council tax, that they must charge the families of children with disabilities for the ability to travel and receive an education, and to claim that they must ‘save’ money.

The Socialist Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) argues that if the council can afford to buy a hotel, then they can surely afford to give disabled children the opportunity to get their education, and not to be charged for it.

The Socialist Party is standing several TUSC candidates on the 3rd of May in Coventry to oppose policies such as this. In particular we are standing against cabinet member Kevin Maton in Henley, who is behind the charges. Local Conservative councillors and activists have attended protests organised by the campaign against these charges – however it is highly hypocritical when you look at what the Tory government is doing to working class people, particularly those with disabilities. It is incongruous for Tories to campaign for the rights of disabled people on a local level when the Tory party leadership are making it harder for people with disabilities to receive benefits.

The parents of the campaign have done a great job in organising and arguing their case, including mounting a legal challenge to the council – as they believe the proposed charges are age discriminatory. The Socialist Party will continue to raise this issue in our local election campaign and continue to support the campaign until the council stops these discriminatory charges.

Socialists and the 2018 Local Elections in Coventry

Socialists and the 2018 Local Elections in Coventry

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Socialists with the local community prevent bedroom tax eviction in Charterhouse

May 3rd will see local elections take place in Coventry, with 18 seats (one third of the council) being contested.

Nationally the Tories continue to show that they are not “strong and stable” but weak and wobbly. The 2017 general election called by Theresa May was supposed to follow the Conservative script  – an increased majority for May, with Corbyn’s Labour suffering. The actual results were very different. We predicted that Corbyn’s anti austerity policies would be popular despite the constant sabotage of the Labour right wing. The outcome showed that working class people are looking for change – not surprising given year after year of austerity cuts.

Unfortunately Corbyn’s anti austerity leadership has not yet been reflected in Labour Councils across the country, and Coventry is no exception.

We have outlined previously how we think the council should be opposing the cuts by refusing to pass on Tory austerity and campaigning to win back money stolen from Coventry by central government, a strategy which has obtained support at a national level within the local government trade unions as well as union branches locally. Sadly, instead of using some of the substantial reserves (which have now risen to over £100 million since 2010) to fund services and hold down council tax whilst a campaign is built, they have chosen to reduce library services, increase charges for children’s disability transport and made cuts to community centres and adult education. Coventry is suffering massively from the crisis of capitalism – we need public representatives who are going to help organise resistance to these attacks.

In recent elections the Socialist Party, as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, has stood widely across the city, including standing in all 18 wards. We wanted to ensure that there was an anti austerity and socialist voice when both of the main parties offered more of the same, pro cuts pro big business polices – this stance being supported by several thousand votes across the city. In the 2017 general election we took the decision not to stand in order to support Jeremy’s battle against the Tories – we distributed over 15,000 leaflets outlining why the Socialist Party supported Corbyn’s policies, and why they needed to be extended further.

In 2018 we recognise that Jeremy Corbyn is attempting to build on his anti austerity message at a time when the Tories are on the ropes. Therefore we will not be contesting all wards, but will be standing in 5 – St Michaels, Radford, Lower Stoke, Henley and Sherbourne.

Whilst recognising Jeremy’s position and so standing in fewer seats, we are continuing to fight austerity and the capitalist crisis using every opportunity we have, whether that’s taking part in campaigns to save the NHS and other key services, helping to build stronger, more militant unions, or standing in elections.

We will be continuing to put forward the idea that councillors do have a choice to oppose the cuts, both in the council chamber and on the streets, and that working class people should not pay for the capitalist crisis. Given the latest increase in PFI car parking charges at Walsgrave we will continue to call for these Profit from Illness schemes to be scrapped.

We will be arguing that to end the situation where thousands of Coventry kids are living in poverty we will need to create a socialist society that puts ordinary people before profit. A socialist society that through public ownership of the key sectors of the economy including the banks, can plan the enormous resources that exist for the benefit of the majority.

We urge you to support our candidates in the wards where we are standing, attend our public meeting, help our campaign by for example making a donation, putting up a poster or volunteering to distribute leaflets. We also would encourage you to think about joining the Socialist Party – help us build a mass socialist movement armed with the policies that can defeat capitalism once and for all.

Public Meeting 

Council cuts, Corbyn and the Tories – how can we fight back?

Tuesday 24th April, 7.30pm

Methodist Central Wall, Warwick Lane, Coventry.

Please fill in the form below to get involved!

 

 

Socialists condemn latest hike in hospital parking charges

Socialists condemn latest hike in hospital parking charges

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Defend the NHS

For the second time in less than a year hospital bosses have decided to increase parking charges at University Hospital in Coventry. The car park is operated by private company ISS, as part of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract. These charges are paid by patients and hard-working NHS staff – what PFI really means is Profit From Illness!

The Coventry Telegraph has previously revealed that between 2011 and 2017 the local NHS trust paid over £6 MILLION in subsidies for the car park to ISS – and ISS refused to reveal how much profit they made from the contract. Public money shouldn’t be given to private profiteers – PFI contracts should be ended immediately!

Thousands of people have already signed a petition organised by Coventry Socialist Party and NHS SOS against these outrageous charges.

We say

  • No to PFI car parking charges
  • Time to scrap PFI – no more Profit From Illness
  • The NHS should be brought completely back in to public ownership, under the democratic control of NHS workers, patients and the communities that it serves
  • Get rid of capitalism – the root cause of all attacks on our healthcare system

Stop union busting in Coventry – support the UCU!

Stop union busting in Coventry – support the UCU!

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Campaigning for workers’ rights in 2016

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) in Coventry are fighting back against attempts to undermine trade unionism and workers’ rights. Coventry University Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Coventry University, has refused to recognise the UCU but has signed a recognition with a ‘staff association’, the Staff Consultative Group. The UCU are clear that this Group is not an independent organisation and has no support from staff.

We urge all readers of this website to sign the petition in support of the UCU here, where you can also read more background to the situation.

UCU have called a protest on Weds 18 April, at 1pm outside the Graham Sutherland Building, Cox Street, CV1 5PH.

Local MP Jim Cunningham has come out in support of the UCU. All Labour MPs and councillors in the city should publicly condemn this attack on trade unions in our city – particularly given the way the University dominates the city, assisted by the council.

An injury to one is an injury to all – support the UCU!

 

Coventry protest shows solidarity with Palestine

Coventry protest shows solidarity with Palestine

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Protest in Broadgate

At short notice a protest was called today to show solidarity with Palestinians killed and injured by the Israeli military in Gaza on Friday. You can see more pictures by visiting our Facebook page. The Socialist Party distributed a bulletin which you can download here.

Activists from Palestine, local campaigners, trade unionists and socialists gathered together to ensure that what has taken place did not go unchallenged. Coventry has a long history of showing support for the Palestinian struggle and this will need to be stepped up – the only consistent allies of the Palestinians are ordinary working class people around the world.

The scenes in Gaza have been horrific – at the time of writing at least 16 Palestinians have been killed by bullets fired by the Israeli military, with over 600 injured.

Around 20,000 Palestinians had gathered to commemorate what is known as Land Day, the anniversary of the killing of 6 peaceful Palestinian protestors in 1976 who were taking part in a General Strike against the expropriation of Palestinian land.

Protests are expected to continue for 6 weeks leading up to 15th May – the 70th anniversary of the Naqba (Catastrophe) which saw 750,000 forced to flee from their towns, cities and historic homeland.

The situation in Gaza has continued to deteriorate – 1.9 million Palestinians live in what is in reality the world’s largest open air prison camp – blockaded by land, air and sea by Israel and Egypt. The economy is completely crippled – according to figures from the World Bank, there is 44 per cent unemployment, which rises to 60 per cent for those aged between 15 and 29. Around 80 per cent of people rely on humanitarian aid to survive whilst a staggering 97 per cent of water is not safe for human consumption. Israel controls all movement of goods and people, to and from Gaza. The United Nations has stated that Gaza may not be fit for human habitation within a few years.

In this latest outrage, the Israeli army revealed its deadly intention in dealing with the protest by positioning 100 snipers along the border fence. The Israeli ruling class fear the potential of the mass nature of these protests, hence why they were determined to use such lethal force. They cynically use any Palestinian protest to point to how this allegedly threatens the security of the Israeli population – in reality it is the racist policies of the Israeli government, the occupation and the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians that is the biggest threat to the safety of ordinary Israelis.

Sadly, the latest massacre is not a new occurrence for Palestinians in Gaza. Thousands have been killed and many more wounded by numerous Israeli attacks. Responses to these murderous attacks have ranged from very mild condemnation from the Western powers and institutions, to outright support for the actions of the Israeli government and military.

Further protests around the world  will take place in the coming weeks. The establishment, including the right wing in the Labour Party who discovered their previously never seen before ‘anti-racist’ conscience for about 30 minutes last week, will be silent towards the suffering of the Palestinian masses. It will require the active solidarity of ordinary people, including the hundreds of thousands of Jeremy Corbyn supporters in this country, to ensure the Palestinians are not isolated.

The Socialist Party commits its solidarity to the struggle. At the same time, pointing out with our co-thinkers in the Socialist Struggle Movement in Israel-Palestine, that we need to build a mass movement for socialist change here and in the Middle East; to end the siege of Gaza, the occupation and to build a society that ends all racism and oppression and where national rights and self-determination are guaranteed for all.

If you agree with us, fill in the form below to get active in the struggle for socialism

 

 

 

Low paid Teaching Assistants to be made redundant as one Head Teacher’s salary soars

Low paid Teaching Assistants to be made redundant as one Head Teacher’s salary soars

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Photo – Rugby Observer

By a Socialist Party member in Rugby

Avon Valley School in Rugby have announced they are to make seven teaching assistants redundant due to consistent cuts to their budget by the Tories.

This comes just a week after it was revealed that the head of Ashlawn School in Rugby is earning £270,000 per year. Head of Ashlawn Lois Reed received a pay rise of around 50% from 2016 to 2017. This places her among the highest paid heads in the country and on £150,000 more than the second highest paid head in the town at Lawrence Sheriff School.

One Rugby resident said Mrs Reed’s pay is obscene particularly at a time when many schools are struggling to balance their budgets.

It’s a question of priorities, do we want our schools adequately funded and staffed in order to provide quality education for our children or do we want fat cat salaries for one head teacher who values the Government’s academy and free school programme above a decent education for all? (As well as being Ashlawn’s head teacher Mrs Reed is also acting CEO & accounting officer for the Transforming Lives Education Trust and is leading the expansion of free schools in the Rugby area.)

The Socialist Party says:

* No to all cuts – defend every school, job, course and service
* Organise campaigns in every area uniting teachers, support staff, parents students and the community
* For a trade union organised national demonstration in defence of education
* Co-ordinated strike action by education workers to stop cuts
* Fight for a fully funded, democratically run, genuinely comprehensive education system

If you agree with us, we urge you to get in touch and help us build a movement to defend education and to fight for socialist change. Please fill in the form below!