Coventry students demand £10 now for uni workers

Coventry students demand £10 now for uni workers

Coventry Socialist Students members campaigning with TUC Young Workers

Coventry Socialist Students members campaigning with TUC Young Workers

This week marked another success for Coventry Socialist Students as a motion calling for a £10 an hour living wage, proposed and seconded by CSS members, passed through the students union council. We argued that the SU should campaign for the university to pay all staff at least £10/hr, the policy of the TUC (Trade Union Congress),

This motion, adding to the SU housing responsibility motion previously passed, represents another area of student’s lives which CUSU now has to campaign to improve. The motion means the union has resolved:

  • To campaign for an £10hr minimum wage for all university and CUSU staff.
  • To release a public statement criticising the university management for amassing such a great surplus revenue and not allocating it to improve the conditions of its workers.
  • To release a public statement against the pay rise of the university management whilst the average wage paid by the university to its staff has decreased.
  • To release a public statement expressing support with the UCU with their grievances, as well as calling for student and worker’s unity.
  • To mandate the Communications Officer to communicate with the UCU in regards of future co-operation about issues students or lectures face with the University management so a united front can be presented.
  • That the Union as a whole will campaign to increase student awareness on the surplus revenue the University has, the exploitation going on of workers and the importance of paying £10 an hour (TUC Living Wage).

Not only does this motion have a direct effect on students employed on campus by the university, CUSU or any outsourced services, it also has a much wider implication to the university. The motion also called for greater co-operation between CUSU and the UCU, the main Trade Union representing lectures. This is significant as it allows students and lectures greater opportunity to unite together to campaign together against the commodification of education and the ever increasing corporate style running of the university.

Furthermore, CUSU now has to publicly criticise the management for amassing over £21m in ‘surplus revenue’ last year. This is a very significant step in turning the SU into a campaigning, fighting organisation which will stick up for students even if it goes against the university management.

As a society which fights for students we will continue to work within and outside the student union to achieve our aims. If you agree with what we’re campaigning for, and want to fight for socialist change, join Socialist Students!

“No room for unfair housing!” – Coventry Socialist Students protest against dodgy landlords

“No room for unfair housing!” – Coventry Socialist Students protest against dodgy landlords

No room for unfair housing

No room for unfair housing

Coventry Socialist Students have been campaigning on the issue of sub-standard housing for months, so when we heard about a University-organised “housing fair” on Monday 21st, at which several landlords, letting agencies and student halls companies were advertising their services, we felt we had to protest!

A group of us hung a banner from the balcony of the University Hub which read “No room for unfair housing” and chanted slogans including “Dodgy landlords hear us say, rip off rents? No way!”

Kris O’Sullivan, President of Coventry Socialist Students and a candidate for SU Community Rep, spoke at the protest; “In Coventry, and up and down the country, the university experience is being ruined by dodgy landlords who are charging extortionate amounts of rent for often sub-standard accommodation, and regularly ignore the tenant rights of the student occupants.”

Coventry University has a 28,000 strong student population at any given time; however, there is only a limited amount of purpose-built accommodation for students, meaning the majority have to rent through private landlords.

The University’s security quickly came to get rid of us, but we weren’t going to leave until the landlords got the message!

Security tried to grab our banner

Security tried to grab our banner

We want the university to work with Coventry Council to create an accreditation scheme to register all private landlords, in accordance with SU policy. This in particular will benefit local residents as well as students, we should be united in fighting dodgy landlords. We also want to establish a democratic, student-run letting agency to provide students with an alternative to the existing providers. We also need thousands of new council homes to be built – thousands of Coventry people are on the waiting list, they deserve a decent place to live with affordable rents!

If you’re a student and you want to fight dodgy landlords, for decent housing and for socialism, join Socialist Students!

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 Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport

Coventry Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport

Protestors outside the Council House

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

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.

Solidarity message from Dave Nellist to Warwick student demonstration

 National chair of TUSC (Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition), Dave Nellist, sends solidarity greetings to the Warwick student demonstration held on Wednesday 04-12-14:

(Dave is a former Coventry Socialist Councillor & Coventry Militant Labour MP)

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

‘This generation of students threatens to be the first for decades which won’t be better off than their parents.  Crippling mortgages, having to supplement inadequate pensions, and debts exceeding £50,000 to get a degree, will be difficult to cope with even if students succeed in getting a graduate level job.

For the thousands who don’t, it will be impossible.

Education should be free.

Peaceful protest is a democratic right.  40 years ago several hundred of us, at what is now Coventry University, held a 19 day occupation of the equivalent of the Senate House.  I support the right of Warwick students to protest, including peaceful sit-ins and occupations, to regain genuinely free education.

The actions of the police on Wednesday, as viewed on YouTube, were a disgrace and formal complaints should be made by those present to ensure an investigation takes place.  But internal investigations by the police of themselves, is not enough.  We no longer have proper, democratic oversight and accountability of the police by the communities in which they work.  Present Police Commissioners are toothless and almost all drawn from establishment parties.

We need a new accountability of public sector organisations like the police – to elected committees of local people, including councillors, representatives of trade unions, residents and tenants organisations – and yes, representatives of students and young people as well.

The actions of the police on Wednesday may be an aberration – or it may be part of a pattern that believes kettling and heavy handed policing of student protest is ok.  Either way a proper and genuine investigation is required.

The police need to be democratically accountable to the communities they serve.

Solidarity.’

Dave Nellist

(Socialist Party and National Chair, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)

Protest against Labour’s plans to cut transport for children with disabilities

Protest against Labour’s plans to cut transport for children with disabilities

Protestors outside the Council House

Protestors outside the Council House

Around 60 protesters lobbied Coventry Council today in protest at their planned cuts to disabled children’s transport to school. These cuts could leave many children unable to get to school, as many families may be unable to pay for the transport required. Activists from the Socialist Party,the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students attended the demonstration, which was organised by Eleanor Lisney, a local campaigner and member of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). Coventry’s Labour Council is choosing to carry out Tory cuts rather than fighting back and passing a budget that meets the needs of the people of Coventry.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

They should use some of the £81million they have in reserves to fund services temporarily, while building a campaign with service users, trade unions and community groups to demand central Government provides the money to fund the services we need.

For coverage in the Coventry Telegraph click here

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.

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.

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