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!

 

Strong support for lecturers strike at Warwick Uni

Strong support for lecturers strike at Warwick Uni

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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.

For more reports of the strike from around the country click here.

The disgusting appointment of Toby Young

The disgusting appointment of Toby Young

Toby Young – photo from New Statesman

A young socialist and trade union member who works in a Coventry school in gives his views on the controversial appointment of Toby Young.

There are plenty of repulsive individuals who haunt the corridors of power, but some seem unable to maintain the pretence of competence for long enough to become a right-wing MP. One of these individuals is “The Honourable” Toby Young, who has inexplicably been appointed to the board of the newly-created “Office for Students”.

Young’s odious nature is obvious to anyone unfortunate enough to have come across him, and a brief scan of his Twitter history might have sufficed to demonstrate it to those who hadn’t – however, for some reason Young has decided to delete around 50,000 of his tweets. We can’t possibly think why this might be – but The Independent has helpfully listed some of his now departed online musings here.

Some notable comments he’s made include commenting on the “cleavage” of female Labour MP’s – on at least two occasions! -, claiming that he had his “d**k up the a**e” of a woman standing next to him in a picture, commenting on director Danny Boyle’s underage daughter’s breasts, and referring to disabled students as “illiterate troglodytes” in an article in The Spectator.

These comments would very likely be enough to get a public sector worker sacked for gross misconduct. As the son of a Baron, presumably Young’s only punishment for these “errors of judgement” is that he isn’t a Government minister yet. Ironically Young’s father, Baron Young, coined the term “meritocracy” – Young Jr.’s persistent presence in public life is perhaps the ultimate proof that meritocracy does not exist. Unsurprisingly, the Government’s court jester Boris Johnson is one of the few people to spring to Young’s defence, referring to his “caustic wit” – presumably Boris agrees that “caustic wit” is required to mock people who may struggle with reading when writing in a national magazine.

Young’s bizarre appointment has drawn attention to the Office for Students (OFS) as a whole. Looking at the 15 board members, not one represents an educational union, such as the UCU. Not one represents a students union, such as the NUS – in fact only one of the board members is a student! This begs the question, what exactly is the point of the OFS and whose interests will it be serving?

Young wrote a memoir called “How To Lose Friends And Alienate People”, believing the title to be a self-deprecating joke. Unfortunately for him, it’s a fairly accurate description of what much of the political class thinks of him – but what most ordinary people think of him is far more damning. Toby Young must go – and the OFS can’t be trusted to represent the interests of students and lecturers. Only students and lecturers organising against university fees, dodgy landlords and casualisation will result in any serious gains for ordinary people in higher education.

Join Socialist Students at Coventry and Warwick!

Join Socialist Students at Coventry and Warwick!

Socialist Students

Socialist Students on the march

By Berkay, Warwick Socialist Students

The surge in the popularity of Corbyn’s policies signifies the revival of socialist ideas within the younger generation. But for the people in the socialist movement this is not a surprise.

The rise of Corbyn and the fight for socialism

After decades of attacks on working-class people, living standards for the majority of people have fallen to low levels. Students have also taken a big hit from these attacks caused by the neo-liberal capitalist agenda. The rocketing tuition fees and sky-high rents, combined with zero-hour contracts, have led to the deterioration of the conditions of students throughout the country. Not only the life for students has worsened, the quality of education has also gone down.

In this respect, it is not a surprise at all to see young people showing interest in the politics of Socialist Students. In fact, this interest was perceived by us prior to the rise of the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn. This was shown by the increasing frequency of student demonstrations over the past couple of years and the increase in student activism. Undoubtedly, the Coventry and Warwick Universities have been a hotspot in the fight for free education in this period.

Students must get organised

And now a new academic year is starting. Campuses are being filled by excited new students who are inspired by socialist ideas. The tide is turning and being organised is more important than ever before. Socialist Students is an organisation attempting to bring positive, socialist change to the society that we all live in. It is a growing group and has started to have much more influence on campuses; it shows a good example to other students with its determination in defending the rights of students.

First meetings of term at both universities

Accordingly, the Socialist Students are holding their first meetings of the year on the week commencing the 2nd October.

The first meeting of the year at Coventry University will be on Monday 2nd October at 18:30 in The Castle Grounds, CV1 2UR.  The meeting will be on socialism, where we will discuss how socialism is possible and why we should fight for it. This discussion will also include many contemporary events such as the recent general election and the rise of Corbyn.

A similar meeting will also be organised on Thursday 5th October at Warwick University. The meeting will begin on 18:00 in H0.03, in the Humanities building. The possibilities of a socialist revolution will be discussed in this session.

These meetings will be an immense opportunity for new students to ask questions and join the discussion with regards to Socialist Students or about socialism, revolution and Marxism in general. Hope to see you in these meetings!

We urge you to get involved in Socialist Students, fill in the form below

Why young people should support Jeremy Corbyn

Why young people  should support Jeremy Corbyn

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Young people in Coventry protesting against Tory cuts to their future

We have received this article from Dan, a young worker and trade union member in Coventry


Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies have inspired people across the country and around the world. Young people especially have been supportive of Jeremy’s ideas, attending rallies and campaigning for him in the general election. One poll suggests that 68% of people aged 18-24 will vote Labour, 52% ahead of the Tories!

So why should young people support Jeremy? Politicians have lied to us before, so many of us don’t trust a word any of them say. Nick Clegg said he’d scrap tuition fees – that pledge lasted about a week into his coalition with David Cameron and the Tories. But in this election we’re not being offered the Tories, Diet Tories and Tory Zero – there’s a clear choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, and the policies they’re running on.

Jeremy wants to scrap tuition fees, abolish graduate debt and bring in a National Education Service – for free education for everyone, “from the cradle to the grave”. Compare that to what we have now – if you go to uni you could leave with £50 grand of debt round your neck! He also wants to scrap exploitative zero-hour contracts and increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour.

Corbyn’s policies have a lot to offer young people, and give a glimpse of what can be achieved by using some of the wealth in this country – the 6th richest country on earth. But we believe we need to go further to truly change our society, and fight for a socialist system. Rather than the chaos of the markets dictating what resources are available, that means taking the wealth off the 1%, taking the banks and big businesses into public ownership and running them democratically in the interests “of the many, not the few”.

Do you agree with Jeremy? Want to join the fight for socialism? Fill in the form below!

Socialist receives over 300 votes for President of Students’ Union

Socialist receives over 300 votes for President of Students’ Union

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Aidan O’Toole (right) campaigning in solidarity with South African students

Socialist Student members received good results in this year’s Coventry University Students’ Union executive elections, with Aidan O’Toole receiving 307 votes for President (14 per cent). Another Socialist, Sam Kempster, scored a very respectable 102 votes for the position of Vice President of Education.

These results reflect the hard work that Socialist Students have carried out over the year, campaigning on many issues and also it shows the appeal of socialist policies to students who have seen attacks to their rights and living conditions. Tuition fees are set to increase year on year, grants have been cut for the poorest students who now have to take out additional loans and are facing exploitation in the housing sector.

Our campaign was focused on these issues, building on our campaigning work and raising the banner of socialism to a wider audience of students. At the heart of it, we argued that CUSU should take a lead in standing up for students, standing up to the university management when they attack student welfare and taking part in national campaigns for free education.

Students and Workers Unite!

Vital to the work of Socialist Students has been to work with the local University and College Union (UCU) branch, something CUSU consistently fails to do. Instead of working with the lecturers to ensure that both students and lecturers can work together to tackle joint issues. CUSU is seen by some students as the puppet of the university as it time and time again refuses to show solidarity with the UCU in times such as those reported in the Guardian when the university tries its hand at union busting and attacks the rights of its employees (27/09/2016).

Socialist Students, despite receiving little support from within the student council, worked with and supported the UCU and have been consistent in attending UCU picket lines and have organised joint events to foster links between students and staff. We said that if we were elected we would have worked with the UCU to fight back and university cuts, which will become more vital when the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) threatens more attacks on both students and staff.

Housing

Coventry Socialist Students are well known for campaigning on housing issues in Coventry. We have successfully shifted CUSU policy towards housing via grass-roots organisation. This has led to the establishment of a Tenant’s Union which, although in its early days, has the potential to lead campaigns to tackle the exploitation students face in the private sector.

Despite CUSU’s support of this, not enough has been done to ensure its success. Socialist union officers would get involved in things like the tenant’s union and get stuck into any campaigns it leads on. Unfortunately this cannot be said for the vast majority of the CUSU leadership. However, we will continue to work on this issue and stay involved in the struggle against dodgy landlords and rogue letting agencies.

Defending Student Welfare

The university has decided to make vicious cuts to welfare schemes, such as the hardship fund, which will stop many students from being able to finish their education. This cut back is so severe that, despite increasing student numbers, the fund is to be halved year on year until it is only just a fraction of what one of the university CEOs make! This saving is unnecessary and shows naked profiteering which will primarily affect people with caring responsibilities or are survivors of domestic abuse and other unforeseen circumstances.

Socialist Students passed a motion calling for the Students’ Union to organise a campaign against this cut, and a vote of no confidence in the university management if they continue down this line. However, this Students’ Union campaign is nowhere to be seen. We stood to defend this scheme and students were shocked when we told them about these attacks! The

The election is over, but our work doesn’t stop

As a Socialist Students society, we don’t stay quiet all year and pretend to be the saviour around election time. We stand up for students by putting forward a socialist agenda in all our campaigns, all year round. This track record is unmatched on campus and is only partially reflected in our votes.

Despite not teaming up with other candidates just to get votes, or taking part in other tricks that are rife in student politics; we pulled a respectable vote. This is because our socialist agenda connected to those students we spoke to who are facing the hard edge of the recent attacks to their rights.

Aidan, Sam and all Socialist Students would like to say ‘thank you’ to all of those hundreds of students who voted for us.

We encourage all those who agreed with our manifesto to get involved and continue the fight for socialism. With the Tories in power, the attacks on students’ rights will continue and it will become more important than ever that students organise against these attacks. The only way to do that is by putting forward socialist ideas, and the best way to do that is to join the Socialist Students!

Join Socialist Students, fill in the form below!

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.

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!

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.