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.

 

 

 

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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!

 

Students and workers unite for huge protest at Warwick Uni

Students and workers unite for huge protest at Warwick Uni

Students and staff marching at Warwick

On the 5th day of the UCU strikes, students and University staff organised a massive demonstration in Warwick University today. Despite the cold and snow, there was a great turnout to the demonstration that followed the picket lines, which well over 100 people attended. After chanting and listening to UCU members, a huge contingent of students and staff marched around the University campus, showing their determination in fighting against the pension cuts.

This vibrant and energetic march ended outside the University House. Jane Nellist, NUT executive member for the West Midlands and a Socialist Party member, delivered a brilliant and inspirational speech to the students and lecturers at the of the demonstration, bringing solidarity from trade unions. She rightly pointed out the importance of uniting all forces of society against cuts and austerity policies imposed by the Tories and the fat-cats. Undoubtedly, the neoliberal agenda of the Tories is attacking every aspect of life, including universities and public services.

 

Jane Nellist speaking at the protest

Yesterday there was news that UCU and Universities UK (UUK) have agreed to attempt arbitration through the industrial conciliation service Acas. The upcoming days will show us what will come out of these discussions. At the time being, however, picket lines are planned for next week commencing the 5th of March. But in any case, students and University staff have proved today their determination to fight back against any cuts imposed by the government, and have shown the fact that working people will win if they are all united.

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.

Protest against school funding cuts in Coventry

Protest against school funding cuts in Coventry

Jane Nellist, Coventry NUT

Protesters gathered in Coventry today for the “Big School Assembly” demonstration organised by trade unions to protest against education cuts.

Jane Nellist from the National Union of Teachers spoke, as well as speakers from the University and Colleges Union, UNISON and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Parents also spoke and expressed concerns about the impact of funding cuts on their children.

The School Cuts website highlights the effect of education cuts across the country at primary and secondary level. It lists the cuts being made to almost all schools – the picture below shows just how badly these cuts will impact on Coventry.

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Education cuts and academisation represent a huge threat to children’s futures, and it’s important for school staff, parents and pupils to keep building the campaign against them.

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!