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 Socialist Students continues to grow

Coventry Socialist Students continues to grow

Socialist Students stall at Cov Uni Refreshers

Socialist Students stall at Cov Uni Refreshers

Coventry Socialist Students have further built our profile at Coventry University following a successful week of campaigning and activity.

We began the week with a public meeting on the Charlie Hebdo massacre, which around 15 students came to. We discussed the attacks and how socialists should respond to terrorism and Islamophobia. In addition we made plans to build our presence on campus, especially our flagship Housing Campaign.

On Tuesday our four Student Councillors attended the SU council meeting, and all four were nominated to various committees within the SU. We will use those platforms to stick up for ordinary students, and of course to build Coventry Socialist Students (CSS). Crucially, Kristian Sucilla O’Sullivan, Sam Kempster and Mohammed Wurie were all nominated for the Housing Committee, giving us a great opportunity to keep fighting for decent housing and against dodgy landlords and letting agencies.

Sam said ”Coventry Socialist Students are the foundation and support beams of the housing campaign and that’s never going to change, however it’s a really positive step that the campaign has been taken on by the SU and that the steering committee is comprised of both CSS councillors and SU Sabbatical Officers”.

A number of our members attended an open meeting of the lecturers union (UCU) on Wednesday, along with the National Chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Dave Nellist, to continue forming links between staff and students at the university. The meeting was held by the Coventry UCU branch to bring together lecturers and workers from across the faculties under one roof to point out and discuss some of the serious problems going on behind the academic scenes.

Kristian speaking to UCU meeting on behalf of Coventry Socialist Students

Kristian speaking to UCU meeting on behalf of Coventry Socialist Students

Kristian spoke to the meeting to bring solidarity from CSS: “Students and lectures alike are being exploited in a variety of ways, from students facing overpriced sub-standard accommodation to lecturers being forced into working overtime by taking on extra admin workloads. We want to work with the UCU to bring together both these exploited groups in united struggle and point towards the real problem – the bosses upstairs.”

Coventry Socialist Students Protest in Solidarity With Hong Kong

Coventry Socialist Students Protest in Solidarity With Hong Kong

09/10/2014 by Kristian O’Sullivan

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Coventry Socialist Students took to the streets this week to talk to students about the protests that haven taken place in Hong Kong in the pursuit for true democracy. We set up our stall in the main courtyard on campus, where the main hub of activity takes place. For the first 20 minutes we distributed leaflets, petitions and having great conversations with students about the events taken place and the actions of Socialist Action in this tremendous movement.

However it wasn’t long until two police officers showed up to inquire into what we were doing, we explained and they asked if we could move off university property. We declined that option after stating as students we had the same right to use this student space like anyone else. Two more university security staff members came and eventually two members of university management afterwards, when the dust settled and all the excitement of police, security and university workers inquiring into our activities was done we carried on as usual.

The day carried on with dozens of students taking photos holding Socialist Action slogans and umbrella’s to demonstrate solidarity with the brave individuals using umbrellas to defend themselves whilst facing the rubber bullets and tear gas being used upon them by Chinese authorities. We had students from all different backgrounds and countries (including mainland China & Hong Kong) approaching us on this issue. Alongside the great show of support, we also made over 10 contacts and a number of papers sold.

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In regards to social media, dozens of Chinese students took photos to share with family back home, within hours over 1000 people have clicked to view our photo album of the stunt on our Facebook page and counting.

Many other students identified with the need for an alternative form of society, a socialist society where democracy is more than just a dream for some but a reality shared by all.

Check out the photo album here

And for updates from the Socialist Party’s sister organisation in Hong Kong – http://www.socialism.hk

Hundreds rally at Warwick University against racism and fascism

Hundreds rally at Warwick University against racism and fascism

UCU banner on the protest

UCU banner on the protest

Over 200 students rallied today at Warwick University against racism and fascism in a fantastic show of unity and solidarity. The protest was prompted by the presence on campus of a student member of the openly fascist National Action group which featured in a recent article in the Mirror newspaper (see link here)

Students from a wide variety of backgrounds were mobilised by the Warwick Anti-Racism Society, with support coming from members of trade unions based in Coventry such as Unison, PCS and NUT, as well as the UCU branch at the university.

Members of Socialist Students from Coventry University were present with Socialist Students at Warwick. Kristian Sucilla O’Sullivan, recently elected student councillor and President of Coventry Socialist Students spoke to the rally and brought the solidarity of Coventry students. He also called for the building of a movement against austerity armed with a socialist programme to beat the fascists and the capitalist system.

Kristian from Coventry Socialist Students addresses the crowd

Kristian from Coventry Socialist Students addresses the crowd

Dan Crowter, a member of the National Union of Teachers (in a personal capacity) and the Socialist Party brought greetings from his union, and called for a united fight for decent jobs, homes and education, which was met with applause.

Dan Crowter of the NUT

Dan Crowter of the NUT (personal capacity)

All of those involved in the organisation of this protest and everyone who attended should take massive credit for an excellent event. Many speakers rightly said that this can’t be a one off and discussions will take place about how we can build a movement against the far right. Socialist Students will continue to put forward the idea of unity between students and workers, and for a socialist programme that can lead the way out of this barbarous capitalism system that blights the lives of the 99 per cent.

Report from the picket line at the University of Warwick

Report from the picket line at the University of Warwick

Workers on the picket line

Workers on the picket line

Workers from UCU, Unite and Unison at both Warwick and Coventry University went on strike today over the dismal 1% pay rise they’ve been offered. This offer is well below inflation, and thus is yet another pay cut for university staff – in real terms, their pay has been by 13% since 2009. However, despite this appalling offer and the massive cuts being made at Warwick, their Vice-Chancellor Nigel Thrift has just received a 10% pay rise – from £220,000 to £244,000!

Many postgraduate students work as part-time lecturers, as university management can employ them with low pay and poor conditions. This practice exploits the students, who should receive grants to support them in their studies, and undermines the pay and conditions of full time lecturers.

Socialist Party and Socialist Students members went to the picket line at Warwick to show our support. Around 30 people joined the picket, including workers from all three unions on strike and students showing solidarity with them. Many drivers showed support by beeping their horns, and the solidarity showed by students was obviously appreciated by staff.

UCU Lecturers Strike – report from Coventry University

UCU Lecturers Strike – report from Coventry University
Mark Best reports
Coventry University Lecturers in the UCU union, walked out for two hours at Coventry University yesterday, with over 25 joining picket lines at the University. The strike was a rejection of the measly 1% pay offer given by university management nationally. With inflation above 3% this amounts to a real terms pay cut. In fact university workers’ pay has fallen by 13% in real terms since 2009. This comes at the same time as the vice chancellor of Coventry University has had his salary increase by 18% bringing it to £257,000 a year!
A member of Coventry Socialist Students said:
“The government is hell bent on making a decent education only within the reach of a small and privileged elite. We need to take the education system into the hands of ordinary people, make it free and open to all! Attacks on university staff’s pay and conditions are the same as those facing workers all over the country. A need is there for workers to unite and strike together to fight vicious austerity cuts.”

Coventry Socialist Students at Re-Fresher’s

Coventry Socialist Students at Re-Fresher’s 

Kris O’Sullivan 

As the clock hit 10 at Coventry University’s re-fresher’s event officially start, Socialist Students were ready with prepared stalls, literature and a good conversation for any interested student that came over to chat.

The overall response was very positive as students from all walks of life and political positions approached the stall to discuss wide-ranging topics from what is Socialism to what campaigns the society fights for on a daily basis.

Coventry Socialist Students

Coventry Socialist Students

Big strides were made in raising the profile of the society on campus and getting students not only interested in politics but waking up to Socialism! Today was only a drop in the ocean in terms of building the society and building the platform necessary to inform students and young people in general what Socialism means and how we can get there.

Report and pictures from second coordinated strike action at Coventry and Warwick Universities

Socialist Party members were out on Tuesday 3rd of December, alongside Socialist Student group members from both Coventry and Warwick University, supporting University workers in UCU, UNISON and UNITE on their second coordinated strike over pay.

Below is a sample from the leaflets we distributed on the day and a number of pictures from the picket lines across the two Universities.

Continue reading

Report and pictures from university strike action at Coventry and Warwick

Report and pictures from university strike action at Coventry and Warwick 

Picket at University of Warwick

Picket at University of Warwick

Today industrial took place at Higher Education institutions across the country involving members of UCU, Unison and Unite. There were pickets at both Coventry University and the University of Warwick. Members of the Socialist Party visited the picket lines to show support, whilst Socialist Student groups at both universities, together with Socialist Party youth members worked hard to build links between students and university workers on the day and beforehand.

Report from University of Warwick

By M Best

Socialist Students at Warwick build support

Socialist Students at Warwick build support

The mood was clear at the picket at Warwick today, there is a drastic need to take action to defend peoples jobs. The issue of a pay cut was just as important for lecturers and staff becoming increasingly unsure of whether they will get enough work during the quiet periods such as the summer. The issue of people on zero hour contracts and increased casualisation were also mentioned. The idea of a general strike, getting everyone out together, to face the attacks which are the same in every industry struck a chord with the workers.

One picketer told me
“It’s sad that the university can’t support its staff the way the staff supports it. People say if you can’t pay for the best then you won’t get the best, so we can’t be the best. If an employer said to you would you take a job that in 4 years we’ll pay you 14% less you wouldn’t take it. A lot of people can’t afford these cuts. There are people having to choose between heating and eating. And we’re having staff at a top university have to make that decision. Its those lowest paid workers at the bottom who can’t afford the pay cuts.”

Report from Coventry University

Picket near the Alan Berry Building at Coventry University

Picket near the Alan Berry Building at Coventry University

There were a number of pickets across the campus of Coventry University, as union members gave out leaflets to students explaining why there were going on strike. Members of Unison from the Coventry District (council) branch attended to show support. Socialist Students members joined the picket to bring solidarity from students.

Members of Socialist Students / SP youth members

Members of Socialist Students / SP youth members

The question of unions from different sectors co-ordinating their many disputes came up time and time again. The need for co-ordination action is not just a good idea, it is a burning necessity which would raise the collective confidence of all workers in the fight against capitalist austerity measures.

One of the leaflets that was distributed

One of the leaflets that was distributed

Socialist Party members in the education unions, together with Socialist Students across the campuses, will continue to argue for worker – student solidarity. This is not just a fight for terms and conditions, but a battle to defend education.

If you want to help us, or to join / get more info about the fight for socialism, fill in the form below and we will contact you