UCU hold Alternative Open Day Protest at Coventry University

UCU hold Alternative Open Day Protest at Coventry University

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Members of UCU at the rally

The Coventry University branch of the University and College Union (UCU) held a rally today calling for “Education Not Marketisation”. The Alternative Open Day protest drew support from not only UCU members, but trade unionists from UNITE, UNISON, NEU, NUJ and Coventry TUC, as well as students. The Socialist Party were proud to support this rally and bring our solidarity.

Staff had called a protest on the official Open Day of the university where prospective students were due to attend to highlight a number of serious issues. As the UCU leaflet pointed out

“The week before last two of Coventry University’s outstanding research centres were closed putting 53 staff at risk of redundancy and leaving their students without proper supervisors. Staff recently balloted for strike action over the Performance Management System they are trying to impose on us. Our Recruitment and Admissions was recently outsourced to a subsidiary where staff have hugely inferior conditions. The staff at Coventry University who will teach you or you son or daughter are people who really care about your education. We just wish we could say the same about the University’s Senior Management.”

Speakers pointed how the university, and education in general, is not run in the interests of learning and development, but about profit. Marketisation and commercialisation are inherent in the proft driven capitalist system. The fight for free, high quality education where the interests of staff, students and the local community are put first, goes hand in hand with the struggle for a socialist planned economy, where the needs of the majority are put before that of the profiteers.

 

 

 

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.

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!

 

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.

Student solidarity with lecturers strike

Student solidarity with lecturers strike

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UCU members picketing at Coventry University

Coventry Socialist Students have produced the below statement in solidarity with striking lecturers this week. Please read and share, and support the strike however you can!

This week, the UCU trade union (representing academic and related workers, including many students who teach as postgrads) announced their campaign for fairer pay in higher education. They will be on strike at universities across the country on 25th-26th May, and at the same time beginning to work to rule, which means they will refuse to work overtime, set additional work or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.

Socialist Students supports the UCU in this strike as the fight for free education cannot be isolated to students alone, but must be linked to lecturers and all workers in FE/HE to fundamentally challenge the neo-liberal race to the bottom policies that are stripping away education.

Coventry University UCU will be picketing outside Graham Sutherland Building, Coventry University from 8.30-10.30 on both the strike days. Please join and show solidarity!

Fight for free education, fight for socialism!

For a fighting students union – vote Aidan for President

Vote Aidan for President – for a fighting Socialist president and a fighting students union!

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Socialist Students including Aidan (centre) fighting for decent housing

Coventry Socialist Students have decided to make a stand during this year’s Student Union elections. One of the societies organisers, Aidan O’Toole is running for the position of President on a fighting socialist platform.

Since New Labour introduced tuition fees in 1998, students have been seeing increasing attacks on their right to education, the most recent being the scrapping of maintenance grants for students who need them the most for loans instead. This will add to the high levels of debt students face and act as a massive barrier to students from working class families.

We need an education fightback, for a national campaign to stop these attacks students are facing and to bring back free education and maintenance grants. A national movement is needed to force the government to change course – by linking up with other student unions and trade unions representing staff this could be done!

A prominent issue facing students in Coventry is the circus that is the housing market. Students are faced with dodgy landlords and rogue letting agencies from all angles, and are routinely exploited with high rent, expensive agency fees and substandard conditions! Things don’t have to be this way, and Socialist Students members on the SU council including Aidan have successfully put forward motions that allow the SU to fight dodgy landlords and letting agencies like FututeLets, but they haven’t.

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Aidan (second from right) campaigning with TUC Young Workers for a £10 an hour minimum wage

A fighting Socialist president would make sure that the full weight of the SU will be fighting for better housing. As housing effects the whole of Coventry a cross city campaign, with local activist organisations and resident associations, should be organised to force the council to act in the interests of its residents and not just the landlords.

Aidan says that if elected he will follow the example set by former Coventry MP Dave Nellist, who only took a workers wage, by only taking the average income of a working student and donating the rest of the salary to causes that support students and workers.

A key demand of the campaign is the call for a £10 an hour minimum wage, which Socialist Students also proposed to the SU council and was passed as policy – however, the union has not called for the university pay all staff at least this wage. If elected Aidan will campaign for all SU and university staff to be paid at least £10 an hour as a step towards a real living wage.

Coventry University SU is bureaucratic and run by careerists, but it doesn’t have to be like this. Students can change it by getting involved in the fight for a decent future, decent jobs, decent wages and decent homes.

As Socialists, our society has decided that by raising our demands we will provide a programme of policies that will allow students to take the fight outside the bureaucratic student council and into the wider community. For a fighting SU we need a fighting Socialist! Vote Aidan for CUSU President!

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For a president that will:

• Fight for free education and the restoration of student grants. We don’t deserve to leave university with £50k debt over our heads. We need to organise both at Coventry and also nationally to stop the Tory onslaught on our rights to education!

• Reject the full Sabb salary and only take the income of an average working student. Our representatives should not get special privileges.

• Campaign for a £10/hour min wage for SU & University workers. This is the TUC living wage. Say no to poverty wages!

• Organise against the casualisation of education. Education is not a commodity and the provision of education is not a business. A joint campaign with the UCU will unite both students and lecturers.

• Stand up to dodgy landlords and rogue letting agency’s domination the housing market. Across Coventry campaign to force the local council to tackle the housing problem, with the Tenants Union playing a central role.