Organise to fight the Counter-Terrorism Bill

RadicalisationThe new draft of the Prevent Bill will have been pushed through Parliament by the end of the month. We are deeply concerned about its effect on the education system.

Universities and colleges should be places of experimentation, learning and growth. They are places to challenge authority and organise collectively with those in the same situation. We do not fetishise the idea of the student radical as lasting for three or four years at a Russell Group institution, before going into employment: we want our activists to go on and organise in their communities and workplaces. Education is just the beginning.

The Prevent bill will turn lecturers and educational institutions into spies and monitors, rather than facilitators of free expression and radical thinking. It pits university workers against students, giving them a legal obligation to inform the police and anti-terrorist authorities of students who are at risk of radicalisation.

It encourages Islamophobia and the monitoring of Muslim students doing nothing so out-of-the-ordinary as visiting a prayer room, criminalising their everyday existence, their thoughts and beliefs.

We have already seen our members monitored by anti-terror officers, registered as domestic extremists and pepper-sprayed and beaten across their campuses. Neoliberal institutions do not need another, more racist excuse to crack down on their own students, and Prevent will drive a wedge between students and education workers who should be fighting privatisation and marketisation of their institutions together.

We look to student unions to stand against Prevent on their campuses, and to work with activists and trade unions to withhold its spread and we condemn in the strongest possible terms Unions who will work unquestionly with Prevent. We ask our lecturers to boycott it, and fight alongside us.

Prevent and those who work with it are directly counter to our fight for the democratic institution. We must therefore counter it.

Click here for general information on the counter-terrorism bill, here for general criticism of the bill,  here for specific information on PREVENT’s effects on Muslim students and here and here for information on students campaigning against it.

What can you do ? Tweet under the hashtag #studentsnotsuspects , make the above picture your profile picture, pass this motion in your student union, start whiteboard campaigns, sign this petition  , organise public meetings like this one and generally get organised with other groups on your campus already doing campaigning work on this (i.e. Islamic Societies).

A guide to overnight occupations on campus

Note:
NCAFC activists are are organising a series of direct action workshops all over the country. The next dates and locations include:

21/1 – Teeside University
22/1 – Newcastle University, University of Falmouth
23/1 – Durham University, University of Exeter
25/1 – Aberdeen University
27/1 – University of Kent
02/2 – Nottingham University

If you would like to organise a direct action workshop with NCAFC activists in your city or at your University, then email us at: [email protected]

The strategy of occupations in the context of universities and colleges has a long and successful tradition within student movements all over the world. It is about reclaiming space and changing the power structures within the University, and about politicising those inside and outside the occupation.

Most successful have been long-term occupations over the period of several days, weeks if not months. In 2010, one occupation lasted over a year! But successful occupations require much more preparation than simply going and sitting in a room for a few hours. That is why we have put the guide below together. The list is certainly not complete, which is why we a number of NCAFC members are travelling around the country in the next weeks to give direct action workshops. Email us if you are interested in organising a workshop on your campus: [email protected]

1.      Making the decision

The first step is to have a discussion within your group about having the occupation in the first place. This might seem very obvious, but it is important that most people support the occupation and its aims. At this stage you want to make the decision about whether to occupy overnight, what your demands or the general political aims of the action are, and what you hope to achieve. While it is important that this isn’t just the project of one person, don’t be too worried if there aren’t 50 people in the room at this stage. It doesn’t take more than a core of 5-10 people to organise a successful occupation as long as more people join eventually.

2.      Finding the right target

Once the decision to do an overnight occupation has been made, it is important to find the right target for the occupation. The general rule is to find a place that minimally affects students and lecturers and instead disrupts the day to day business of the cooperate parts of the University and the University management; but you also want a building that is visable and preferably in the heart of your campus. There may well be a specific building connected to your demands, such as the Vice Chancellor’s office/corridor (if you’re protesting pay ratios).

Other important factors are toilets inside the occupied space (an absolute must – your management is almost definetly not going to allow you to access toilets outside your occupation after a few hours); a way of getting food into the occupation (windows are perfectly fine as long as it’s possible to throw a rope to the floor;) and preferably a way of getting people in and out of the occupation (doors, windows, lifts). Finally you need to be able to lock the whole area in a way that makes it impossible for someone to come in from the outside without breaking in (see next point).

3.      Materials and Locking

Locking up an area successfully for an occupation requires a mix of creativity, preciseness and luck. It is important that you try and lock at every single door and make a plan for how to lock or barricade it. In an ideal scenario a door will open inwards and have two handles so that you can simply lock it with a D-Lock or in some cases even a normal bike lock. But otherwise you will have to think a bit outside of the box. Materials you could use include wood, fences, rope, bikes, inner tubes, zip tiers, brackets, bread cages and also materials that you find inside the occupied space.

4.      Getting the numbers

While you can often occupy a space with a handful of people, this isn’t really the desired outcome. You want to try and convince as many members of your group to get involved. The best way to do that is making a spreadsheet with everyone’s name on it and then calling them up one after another. A lot of them might not have any experience with occupations, so it’s your task on the phone to convince them to give it a try (while not misleading anyone about any potential risks).

5.      Getting in

The first 15 minutes of the occupation are crucial. This is what decides if you can successfully establish the occupation or not. So make sure that you have a very clear plan and that everyone knows their role in it. Also don’t make it too complicated: often the best way of starting an occupation is just storming a space with the whole group rather than splitting up and playing cat & mouse with the security. Also choose a time of the day when there aren’t many people inside the space (very early or very late in the day) and have a few people ready to talk to any members of staff that you come across in the space and to convince them to leave.

6.      Outside working group

Soon you will understand why, but your outside working group is as, if not more, important than the occupation itself. They are the ones who tell everyone on campus that you are in occupation: it is their job to flyer students, doorknock in halls, do chalking, organise public meetings and demonstrations – all with the aim to raise awareness of the occupation within the student community and get as many new people involved as possible.

One of the biggest problems with longterm occupations is that the inside group eventually gets tired or has to go to lectures, and so finding new people to join the occupation is vital. Other tasks that can be shared between the outside and the inside group is press and social media work. Here the rule is: go wild! Contact everyone and every paper that you can think of. Press and media attention is one of your biggest weapons against the University during an occupation. This is also an area that NCAFC can help you during your occupation.

7.      Inside the occupation

During the occupation it is important that people don’t get bored and that you create an inclusive and social environment. Give people things to do and divide tasks up: from writing blog posts, to press, to social media, to door shifts, to contacting the University management, to making fun videos – there is a lot of things that need doing. Also try to make it a fun environment by playing group games, watching films, helping each other with uni work. If someone has specific requirements try to be as sensitive and accommodating as possible and also make sure that there is a quiet space within the occupation where people can chill out or do work. In regards to food, you will be surprised how many people will be willing to help you out who might not want to go into occupation.

8.      The reaction of the University

The University can react in different ways: it a) negotiate with you and give in to some demands, b) completely ignore you and let you stay there, or c) try to repress you and get you out as soon as possible. The important thing is in all three scenarios that you remember why you are there in the first place and to stick to your principles, but also to take care of each other and consider what repercussions the group can deal with.

Your best defence against repression and the university being heavy handed is publicity and support among students – so mobilise and agitate on campus, and get the word out to the press! Also make sure that you have a camera with at all time to capture any aggressive behaviour of the University.

This is also where other groups and NCAFC might be able to help. If you’re served with an injunction or possession order, or just want some general help, pick up the phone.

9.      How to end the occupation

The best way to end an occupation is obviously to achieve your demands. However, sometimes you also run out of energy or you get forcibly removed through court injunctions or even police. In all three scenarios you want to make sure that your occupation ends with a bang!

If you are leaving of “free will” try to have a big crowd outside celebrating the occupation and if you know that you will be forced to leave try and also have people outside to monitor the universities and police behaviour and ensure your security. Finally, also make sure that you talk to students on campus, and the wider public, about the occupation and what it has achieved – and tell them about the next thing that they can get involved with.

PRESS RELEASE: Labour Caves to Student Pressure – But a Graduate Tax is Not Enough!

Contact:  02076797219, 07989 235 178, 07821 731 481

Yesterday, Labour Party Higher Education Liam Byrne was quoted in the Sunday Times as willing to replace tuition fees with a graduate tax. This system would mean that all those who go to university , pay an extra portion of tax on top of that which they would normally pay, instead of receiving a student loan.

In a climate where nearly half of graduates will never pay off the entire amount that they owe, the Labour Party views a graduate tax as a more sustainable way of funding the Higher Education system, along with its proposed move to 6K fees.

The system of a graduate tax, however, has faced criticism from campaigning organisations, who argue that the current job market means it is more and more unlikely that those who graduate are higher earners, and that the prospect of an extra tax specifically for graduates, could deter future applicants as much as tuition fees. Furthermore, as a user contribution graduate tax deters from the message of education as a public service, which the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts argues should be publicly funded by progressive taxation.

Hattie Craig, National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts National Committee, said: “In a year where the student movement has reignited the fight for free education, Labour is cynically latching on to the clear want for a different funding system. However, it is not the funding system that we are asking for: we will not stop until we win free education, funded not by a graduate tax but by progressive taxation.”

Deborah Hermanns, NCAFC NC, said: “This move away from the current tuition fee regime shows that pressure from below really is working – we have to continue to fight for the education system we want to see. We will be marching for free education in Birmingham, the home territory of Liam Byrne, on March 28 and we hope he will listen to our demand for an education system which is truly free and funded by progressive taxation.”

Hannah Sketchley, NCAFC NC, said: “Labour is clearly just trying to woo the student voters, and this move shows that students can drive the education agenda. However, we can’t let ourselves be wooed by this one promise – Labour are still promoting an austerity agenda and slashing benefits, especially for the under 25s. ”

Reclaim International Women’s Day! Join our occupation of a secret London location on 6th March!

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Over the past year and a half, students up and down the country have been organising occupations, demonstrations, pickets and other direct actions, and on November 19th over 10,000 students marched on the streets of London calling for a free, just and democratic education for all.

NCAFC women now calls on self-defining women and non-binary students to come together on March 6, in the lead-up to International Women’s Day, and participate in a mass occupation in support of the demands of this national movement of students and, in doing so, make an intervention into the campaign. We need to recognise our fight for free education as gendered, and our demands as gendered. A movement towards equal and democratic universities, FE colleges, sixth forms and schools will benefit women most, as it is women, compared to men, who are faced with inequality, discrimination, and the highest levels of poverty both as students and as workers.

> As fee-paying students, in a country with some of the highest fees in the world, women are paying more and more every year, for courses and resources facing cut after cut. We do so with a promise of economic freedom, when in reality the job market is systemically designed to discriminate against us, and keep up in low-paid, low-skilled work, relative to our male colleagues.

> Lowering living costs for students through living grants, bursaries, decreased halls fees would also benefit women most as it women who disproportionately bear the financial burden (among other burdens) of being carers and/or lone-parents (for example).

> In our campaigns to defend education workers, we also primarily fight on the side of women. Across the board men tend to be over-paid paid senior managers, as well as professors and senior lecturers, while women are far more likely to be researching staff and support staff. In most cases women are the first to be made redundant, the first to have their hours and contracts hacked, and the most likely to be paid less than subsistence-level wages.

On International Women’s Day, when typical feminist campaigns tell us to celebrate strong women of the past, the Guardian has double-page pull-outs with Thatcher’s face on them and, forerunners in the war against women, like Theresa May, tell us how far we have come because of feminism, we want to forge a radical space for women and non-binary students to introduce a radical, feminist perspective to the free education movement, counter to the prevailing neoliberal doctrine.

We want this to be empowering, because direct action and organising together as women and non-binary folk, is empowering. When we say ‘our priority is the welfare and safety of women’, we mean is it our priority to organise radical campaigns that fight for a future without debt, a future with good working conditions, and a future where education is free, and every woman can be educated for the sake of education, and the sake of the public good. Only then, can women be safe, and their welfare be protected.

We want to foster the fusion of women’s groups – Fem Socs, Women’s Associations etc. – and those groups organising for democratic, public universities and free education. We want to bridge a divide between ‘women’s issues’ and ‘education issues’, because they are one and the same.

We want action. Our universities are facing a crisis, where ideologies of marketisation, neoliberalism and austerity reign, and where corrupt and greedy managements extort huge sums of money from students and workers. We believe in a public, democratic university; but that only by foregrounding the plight of women, and other marginalised groups, will we be able to create the equality in our universities that we really seek, and that we really need.

Join us on International Women’s Day.
For more information on plan and location, and what you can do contact NCAFC women via: 07891714146, 07749263622 and [email protected]om.

Click attending on the facebook event here!

There will be a planning meeting in London on February 8th.

Education Bosses’ Pay Days: what’s it all about?

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts who came up with the idea behind the current wave of actions on pay inequality explain where the idea came from and the rationale behind it.

The protests over Vice Chancellor’s salaries were designed to coincide with the day when their annual pay would have overtaken the pay of the lowest paid full-time staff. What we found most immediately shocking was how early in the year this actually occurs. In some cases, it is so early in the year that many students have yet to return from their Christmas break.

The initial intention was for a tongue-in-cheek celebration for the Vice Chancellor, the reason being to create a demonstration with a positive, non-intimidatory atmosphere to attract students who may be new to the campaign and new to activism in general. It was also hoped that the staff on campus would appreciate some cake, music and gentle mocking of the Vice Chancellor on their lunch-break.

The aim of the action is to raise awareness of the ridiculous pay disparity between the highest and lowest paid staff, pressure the university management to reassess the current situation and to embarrass the Vice Chancellor as much as possible. We hope that more education bosses realise that they can’t get away with accepting six-figure salaries and pay increases of significantly more than other staff.

While Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts have been very proactive in promoting the actions, credit must be given to the member of University of Bath UCU who devised the original idea.We are very excited to see that these protests are taking place nationwide and are looking forward to seeing what comes next. Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts stand in solidarity with all students and staff who will participating in these actions. We believe the sharing of ideas between groups is imperative for the progression of the movement.bath meme

PRESS RELEASE: Wave of student action demands fair pay in universities

3-cosas-2For more information contact: 020 7679 7219, 07989 235 178, 07538835330

Students are taking action nationwide to demand fair pay and in universities. From today they will be marking their Vice Chancellor’s pay days, marking the days when those at the top of their universities will have earned as much as the lowest paid workers on campus, who are usually outsourced cleaners.

The actions begin today, when Oxford Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton will have earned as much as the lowest paid worker on campus will have in a year. They will continue throughout January, with the University of Birmingham taking action on January 13, Warwick taking action on January 15, UCL on January 19 and Royal Holloway on January 21, among others.

They are demanding a 5:1 pay ratio at all universities, colleges and schools, with all in-house and outsourced workers paid at least the Living Wage, action to close the gender and racial pay gaps and democratic structures in educational institutions which put workers, students and local communities in control of our universities, colleges and schools, including on issues such as pay.

Helena Dunnett-Orridge, NCAFC National Committee, said “I recently graduated from the University of Birmingham where the Vice Chancellor David Eastwood is one of the highest paid in the country, despite us having had to fight last year to win a living wage for cleaners. The fight for fair pay is also a fight for the rights of women and migrant workers who are almost always disproportionately affected.”

James Elliott, Oxford Defend Education, said: “The equal pay day at Oxford is so early it falls outside of our term time! By lunchtime today our Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton will have earned as much as Oxford’s lowest paid full time staff have in a calendar year. With these actions, we are responding to the grossly unequal distribution of wealth on our campuses. This is all part of the fight for a democratic university, run by students and workers for the wider community.”

Hope Worsdale, Warwick for Free Education, said: “The newly knighted Nigel Thrift has overseen some of the grossest brutalities against his students and their rights to protest. We find it obscene that he is rewarded so highly for this, especially given his credentials as a supposedly left wing academic, and demand no more than a five to one pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid workers.”

NOTES:
1. For more information on Nigel Thrift and brutality at Warwick see: http://anticuts.com/2014/12/03/press-release-free-education-action-nationwide-as-police-brutally-evict-warwick-occupation/

Could you be our Secretariat?

The NCAFC National Committee are looking for three people to fill the role of the Secretariat.

What is the Secretariat?
The Secretariat are elected by the NC and exist to both facilitate the work of the NC and run NCAFC’s democratic events. This means that they organise NCAFC Conference, act as returning officers, and support the NC through the administration of meetings. The Secretariat sit on the NC but don’t have a vote. They are allowed to be full political agents in meetings and in public (as long as they’re not chairing). These roles are crucial to making NCAFC’s democratic processes happen effectively

What do I need to know?
• A working understanding of NCAFC’s democratic structures
• A strong understanding of NCAFC’s debate procedures
• Strong organisational skills
• Free time
• Experience of having sat on boards or committees (excluding society and sports club committees)

Who can do this?
You must be a member of NCAFC but cannot currently hold a position on the NC.
If you’re interested in running please email [email protected] with at most a 200 word statement, by Sunday the 18th January at 6pm, on why you’d be good for the job and a ballot of the NC will be conducted online.
You can also email [email protected] with any questions about the role.

Management pay day – take action on your campus this month!

hpnyHappy New Year! [For the facebook event, click here]

It’s January. That means that our Vice Chancellors and senior management are already raking in big salaries while the rest of us are struggling to make ends meet. 

While low-paid staff wages have stagnated and fallen, VCs are taking home in excess of £1000 per day.

At some point this month, your VC or Principal will have earned the same amount that a low-paid worker does all year. Find out which day that is and take action to demand:

                    1. A 5:1 pay ratio at all universities, colleges and schools, with all in-house and outsourced workers paid at least the Living Wage
2. Action to close the gender and racial pay gaps
3. Democratic structures which put workers, students and local communities in control of our universities, colleges and schools, including on issues such as pay.

It’s always best if you can find out the specific facts for your campus, but here are some guidelines on calculating which day you should take action on…

Assuming that all staff on a low wage get 40 hours per week (which is being generous – many don’t), annual incomes will work out at £13,500 if your university pays the minimum wage. If it’s the London Living Wage (£9.15), it’ll be around £19,000. And if it’s around £16,300 on national living wage (£7.85).

For a table of Vice Chancellor pay in higher education from 2012-13, check out this table here.

March for free education in your town: 31 January

10250217_824287557631159_3712977707441319733_nOn 31st January, we are calling for a day of local marches for free education. For the facebook event, click here.

The movement for free education has to be broad and based in communities as well as campuses. Education is a social good, and what we are demanding will benefit everybody – we have never talked just about the scrapping of fees, but about re-imagining a whole new education system.

Last December, marches for free education in local towns and cities were organised nationwide, from London and Brighton to traditionally sleepy towns like Bath & Chichester which had rarely seen political activity on the streets before. Now it’s time to march again, louder, bigger and stronger.

We cannot win this system by talking only to other students: there are a multitude of struggles going on in communities nationwide, from battles against academy chains bulldozing local comprehensive schools, to fights for English as a Second Language provision. Link up with these struggles; learn from their activists and build a movement together to march on your town on January 31.

Want help organising something? Send us an email at againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com.

SHEFFIELD: https://www.facebook.com/events/1546123058937900

LANCASTER: https://www.facebook.com/events/837913092922108

LONDON: https://www.facebook.com/events/576375515827729/ We will be part of a student bloc on the March for Homes:
No free education without affordable accommodation!

BRIGHTON: https://www.facebook.com/events/315157348681626/?fref=ts

HASTINGS: https://www.facebook.com/events/1523049297978495

BATH: https://www.facebook.com/events/898867816804595

LEICESTER: https://www.facebook.com/events/1558132187769133

NORWICH: https://www.facebook.com/events/1527741210833390

CAMBRIDGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/649661405145810

MIDLANDS: https://www.facebook.com/events/1505409546374788/?ref=2&ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

 

 

 

 

 

Education bosses: IT’S PAY DAY

10847843_824311624295419_5511325737092607442_nFor the facebook event, click here.

NCAFC is calling for action in 2015 against pay injustice in education: occupations, stunts, protests and sit-ins.

***WE DEMAND:***

1. A 5:1 pay ratio at all universities, colleges and schools, with all in-house and outsourced workers paid at least the Living Wage

2. Action to close the gender and racist pay gaps

3. Democratic structures which put workers, students and local communities in control of our universities, colleges and schools, including on issues such as pay.

___

From university Vice-Chancellors and college Principals to academy school super-heads, senior managers are taking home six-figure salaries while students and workers bear the brunt of austerity.

Pay inequality is rife in the education sector and we believe this can be graphically illustrated; we aim to take action on the day that our highly paid head honchos have managed to make the same amount as the lowest paid staff members make in a year. For many, this will happen before the end of January!

Action in each institution will take place on a different day depending on your calculations, which means you can be as creative as you want! Throw your Vice-Chancellor a big party outside their office to congratulate them on their record of cutting everyone’s wages but their own, stage a sit-in outside your principal’s office to protest against poverty pay below the living wage, occupy the offices of senior management on the grounds that OUR fees are paying for the luxury.

To calculate when your day of action should be you need to know exactly how much your Vice-Chancellor, principal or headteacher is paid per year and compare it to how much the lowest paid (minimum wage) workers at your insitution are paid per year.

The next step is to find out (assuming everyone is paid the same amount per day) at what point your VC, principal or headteacher will have earnt the same amount as the lowest paid worker per year. For example, by the 15th of January, the Vice-Chancellor at Bath will have earned what his underpaid staff get for an entire year’s work! If you need help, contact againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com.

It’s important to coordinate with workers and try to help any campaigns around pay that they may already have. As you’re planning your action, get in touch with worker activists on your campus, or the trade union branches.

This action highlights not only pay inequality but also the desperate need for parity of wages across the board, particularly in our universites, colleges and schools. As a bare minimum, we demand a 5:1 pay ratio, meaning that the highest paid staff member may only be paid five times as much as the lowest paid. This would start to close the gender pay gap in important ways, as well as racist pay gaps within the institution.

Of course, our senior management is disproportionately made up of men but, more importantly, the lowest paid workers such as cleaners and caterers are disproportionately women and migrant workers.

The lack of true democracy in our universities means that pay is not something that can be discussed and issued fairly amongst the workers. Democratic schools, colleges and universities would see improvements in pay and conditions for workers, and ultimately we believe our education system can do away with unelected, overpaid bosses altogether.