Student representatives offer solidarity for next steps in workers’ campaign for #FairPayInHE

The following letter has been signed by representatives in student unions, NUS and NCAFC, and will soon be sent to the committees in the higher education trade unions that decide industrial action strategy in the current campaign for decent pay for higher education workers.

Comment below, or email pso [at] uclu.org, to add your signature!

 

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Dear UCU Higher Education Committee members,

CC: Unison HE Service Group, Unite HE Sector Committee, EIS-ULA Executive Committee

We are writing as student representatives to offer our solidarity as you consider the next steps in the campaign for fair pay at your HEC meeting this Friday 14 February.

We support your campaign wholeheartedly. We have supported your protests and picket lines, and some of us have occupied our campuses in solidarity. We know that students lose out and education suffers when your members – the people who make our members’ education happen – are underpaid, overworked and treated with disrespect. Moreover, our postgraduate members are among those receiving insulting wages (if any) for their vital teaching work, and students considering working in education are facing an uncertain future. And we remember the solidarity you and your members offered when we marched and occupied against the tuition fees which are now lining the pockets of senior managers and private businesses instead of supporting your members. So we will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with education workers, and fight together for an education system that serves the needs of students, workers and society.

We understand that to win on pay will require a strong, disruptive escalation of industrial action. We know that this is a difficult decision for you and your members, as well as affecting students. But we will support your action because we know that to allow unfair treatment of education workers to continue and worsen would do much more damage to all of us in the longer term, and the employers’ intransigence has left no other choice. So we urge you to move forward in the knowledge you can call on us for whatever help your members may need, whether that is fundraising for strike pay, complementary direct action or any other support.

In solidarity,

Ben Towse (UCLU Postgraduate Students’ Officer, NCAFC National Committee)

Rosie Huzzard (NUS NEC, NCAFC NC)

Gordon Maloney (NUS Scotland President)

Shelly Asquith (Students’ Union University of the Arts President, NUS London Chair)

Katie Kokkinou (UCLU Welfare & International Officer, NUS London Committee)

Michael Chessum (University of London Union President, NCAFC London Rep)

Daniel Warham (UCLU Democracy & Communications Officer)

Hannah Webb (UCLU External Affairs & Campaigns Officer, NCAFC NC)

Aisling Gallagher (NUS-USI Women’s Officer, NCAFC NC)

Shreya Paudel (NUS International Students’ Committee)

James McAsh (NUS NEC, NCAFC NC)

Omar Raii (NCAFC Black* Power Rep, UCLU Halls Accommodation Rep)

Matt Reuben (Royal Holloway SU Disabled Students Officer, NCAFC Disabled Students Rep)

Emma Brownbill (NCAFC LGBTQ Rep)

Beth Redmond (NCAFC NC)

Max Crema (Unison Scotland Labour Youth Rep)

Grace Jeremy (UCLU Disabled Students’ Officer)

Søren Goard (Goldsmiths SU Education Officer)

Daniel Cooper (University of London Union VP, NCAFC NC)

Jamie Green (Royal Holloway SU VP Communications & Campaigns)

Helena McCoy (NUS Welfare Committee, Stanmore College VP Campaigns & Welfare)

Matt Withers (Central School of Speech & Drama SU President, NUS London Committee)

Clifford Fleming (Manchester SU Campaigns Officer, Young Greens Co-Chair)

James Perkins (City University London SU VP Education, NUS London Committee)

Hattie Craig (University of Birmingham Guild of Students VP Education, NCAFC NC)

Areeb Ullah (Kings College London SU VP Academic Affairs, NUS Black Students’ Campaign Committee)

Deborah Hermanns (NCAFC NC, Birmingham Guild NUS Delegate)

Sam Rae (Sheffield SU Education Officer)

Rob Henthorn (Aberdeen University Students’ Association President for Education)

Rosie Dammers (Manchester SU Education Officer)

Natalie Poernig (Central School of Speech & Drama SU Vice President (Democracy))

Tom Wragg (University of Birmingham Guild of Students VP Democracy & Resources)

Howard Littler (Goldsmiths SU Campaigns Officer)

Keir Gallagher (UCLU Education & Campaigns Officer)

Kirsty Haigh (Edinburgh University Students’ Association VP Services, NCAFC NC)

Adam Bland (University of Central Lancashire SU Education Officer)

Jack Saffery-Rowe (Royal Holloway SU LGBT+ Officer)

James Elliott (Oxford University SU Disabled Students’ Officer)

Hannah Roberts (Students’ Union University of the Arts Education Officer)

Gary Paterson (NUS Scotland Executive Committee & University of Strathclyde Students Association)

Neill Clark (Glasgow Caledonian University Students’ Association VP Education)

Blane Abercrombie (Students’ Association University of the West of Scotland President)

James Moohan (Edinburgh College Students’ Association VP Education)

Michelle Bingham (South Lanarkshire College Students’ Association President)

Updates from #copsoffcampus National Day of Action

Want to continue the fight for democracy, workers rights, free education and against police repression? Join activists from local campaigns across the country at this demo and conference in Birmingham on 29/1/2014.

  •  Breaking News: Aberdeen and Manchester Universities are in occupation – solidarity!
  • Protests in Leeds, London, Aberdeen, Sheffield, Manchester, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester…

Leeds University Protest

Who killed Mark Duggan?

Stay safe everyone:

Paul Mason (Channel 4 News) reporting from Malet Street, London today “This is the new face of student protest…This is not the generation of three years ago, this is freshers from Oxford, Birmingham, Sussex”

Leeds Student Resistance #copsoffcampus demo:
leeds

Photos from Sheffield protest today here.

joshrock

Quote from Manchester Anticapitalist students:

“a group of supporters stormed into the Social Responsibility office to occupy and make the point that any University which cuts courses, invites the police to attack their students, and refuses to support staff demands for decent pay, cannot honestly call itself socially responsible.”

Students and protesters assembling outside ULU.

Demos and solidarity protests in London, Manchester, Nottingham, Derby, Cardiff and Sheffield due to start in five minutes (2PM).

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Trade Union Solidarity With Student Protests from Unite, IWGB, UCU, PCS and GMB!

solidarity is a weapon

Solidarity messages for today’s protests against police repression of students are flooding in. Today we have an extended blog post on the Young Members website of the PCS Union for civil servants:

As a point of principle alone, we as trade unionists should stand in solidarity with students. These attacks are nothing more than politically motivated attempts to undermine the right to protest and shut down any dissent against the Government’s plans to further privatise and run down education.

In this case, the student movement is being targeted partly out of fears that this could be the start of a new wave of student protests akin to those that rocked the country several years ago. More importantly though, it’s also because its taking place alongside a critical dispute involving all the Higher Education unions over the battle for decent pay. A strong united student movement that is actively supporting a solid HE strike across campuses through direct action has the potential to bring education to a halt. The unions could win, and if this happens, the effects across not just higher education, but the trade union movement would be felt. To prevent this happening, the state is flexing its muscles.

The full post from PCS Young Members can be seen here.

 

Unite the Union’s General Secretary Len McCluskey has also spoken out against the police and university management tactics used against student protests:

Len McCluskey said: “Unite is showing strong solidarity with the students of the UK who are being demonised by a coalition government which has precious little to offer anyone under the age of 40.

“Students have a legitimate right to protest peacefully against a governing elite intent on privatising higher education and cutting budgets.

“Some vice chancellors have adopted macho tactics to crush dissent and the police appear to be collaborating with this hardline approach. It’s time to back off.”

Full article here.

 

UCU – the university and college lecturers union, whose industrial action sparked many of the occupations and protests last week, have stated their full support. Many UCU members have written to the Guardian this week giving their support, and the UCU website said:

UCU also welcomes the support of students and their unions for our current industrial action which is aimed at securing a fair pay offer.

To that end, we endorse the Early Day Motion put down by John McDonnell MP which calls upon university authorities to respond positively to requests by protesting students and staff for ‘meaningful dialogue’ rather than adopt heavy handed responses. We also fully endorse Mr McDonnell’s view that, ‘universities should recognise that students have a right to protest as long as it is peaceful’.

Full article here.

 

Students have also received support from the Southern Region Young Members section of the GMB, who said:

GMB young members support students and university workers in their struggle against police violence, the fight for better pay and terms and conditions and defending the right to protest.

GMB members will join the cops off campus demo’s today in a show of solidarity and to fight for decent pay and terms and conditions for ALL staff on campus.

Students and workers face them same oppression from the state when they try and rise up. This campaign is embedded in workers’ struggles, whether that be the HE/FE pay dispute, the outsourced workers struggles like 3 Cosas, or the increase in casualisation, low pay and unemployment and underemployment of young people.

Solidarity!

Report from NCAFC Summer Training, Edinburgh, and plans for the Autumn Term

This year’s NCAFC Summer Training at Edinburgh College was attended by around 60 student activists from institutions across the country including Edinburgh University, Edinburgh College, Aberdeen University, Kent University, Birmingham University, Royal Holloway, UCL, Swansea University, Sheffield University, Queen Mary University Belfast, Middlesex University, and London Metropolitan University.

petequote

The weekend included a diverse range of workshops on a range of subjects including International Students activism, Campaigning around the NHS, Housing Campaigns, Working with Trade Uniosn and more.

In a plenary session on the Saturday, feedback from a range of workshops was brought together into a really exciting set of plans for the term, and year ahead, shaping NCAFC’s upcoming campaign priorities.

 

 

 

 

 

Campaign around Student Debt

  • Resolved to write to Nick Clegg, which can be seen here, demanding he reverse the plans to sell the student loan book, staged direct action on campuses around the country, and moving towards a national demo early in 2014.
  • This should include mobilising graduates as this affects them too.

National Mobilisation Around Campus Struggles

  • NCAFC resolved to back and campaign around struggles at the University of London, including the Tres Cosas campaign and the closure of ULU.
  • We also discussed mobilising around the cuts at the University of Liverpool, but since our training the campaign has won a victory on campus!
  • The attendees agreed that the unilateral closure of student unions by management is an attack that is likely to spread across the country if not stopped now.

Building Local Anti Cuts Groups

  • A number of activists from Birmingham University, UCL, ULU and Royal Holloway resolved to go away and write a hand book for ‘how to build a local anti cuts group’ for activists across the country.sidquote

Workers’ Rights/Workers’ Struggles

  • Campaigning around zero hours contracts was discussed and Mike Shaw (Edinburgh) and Liam McNulty (ULU/Unison) resolved to do further research into what can be done.
  • There was some discussion of the employability agenda being pushed in partnership between Universities and SUs, which may back up the marketisation of education. A task group resolved to go away and continue to discuss this.

General Election Strategy

  • There was a session on general election strategy over the weekend, but we’re keeping schtum on our plans until they’re more fully formed. If you’re an NCAFC member see contact details below to get involved.

NHS Campaigning

  • There was discussion around how to campaign around cuts and privatisation of the NHS, with further discussion at the NCAFC/Medsin event held at Goldsmith’s University the following week. For more information on how to get involved with this campaign, email Pete at [email protected], or check out studentsforthenhs.blogspot.com

Internal Structures/Sexism

  • There were some internal discussions over the weekend too, looking at the structures and democracy of NCAFC, and also the sexism within the student movement.
  • Some good action points came out of this. NCAFC Women are planning to hold Public Speaking Workshops just before NCAFC Conference in November, Facebook event here. We also agreed to continue discussion around sexist behaviours in student men, and how we can improve upon them and make our spaces more inclusive.
  • Our members organising web forum has now been launched, if you want to get in on the discussion, email [email protected] with your name and we’ll send you some login details (all current members should have been sent this already).

Campaigning In The Nations

  • Lots of the stuff we discussed was England-specific, which seemed a bit strange seeing as we were in Scotland! We discussed how we can apply our campaigning to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Rob Henthorn from Aberdeen raised how the biggest issue in Scotland right now is the changes in Further Education, and we need to be campaigning around that! The room asked the NCAFC Scotland committee to let us know what and how we can do to campaign around this. We also discussed the devolved issues with the NHS and how it impacts differently on different nations.

 

Contact details for each of the upcoming campaigns – get in touch and we’ll add you to the discussion:

Student Debt: [email protected]

University of London campaign[email protected]/[email protected]

Building Local Anti Cuts Groups: vpe@guild.bham.ac.uk (Hattie Craig)

General Election: [email protected]

NHS Campaigning[email protected] (Pete Campbell)

Zero Hours Contracts: [email protected]

Employability: [email protected] (Emma Brownbill)/[email protected]

NCAFC Women: [email protected]

FE in Scotland[email protected]

Romanian students’ university occupation

Comment by Ioana Cerasella Chis, a Romanian student studying in the UK

On the 26th of March thirty students at the Babes Bolyai University in Cluj occupied a lecture theatre in response to the government not implementing their promised education policies and the declining quality of education. Meanwhile, other students at the University of Bucharest occupied their History Building in solidarity, making similar demands.

[Read more...]

USI Congress 2013 – Report from Aisling Gallagher, NUS USI Women’s Officer

NCAFC are republishing this statement and report from USI Congress, by Aisling Gallagher, NUS USI Women’s Officer

[Read more...]

Swansea versus the National Front: a win, but not a flawless victory

Campaign Against Fees & Cuts Cymru

Four hundred anti-fascists faced down fewer than sixty supporters of the neo-fascist, extreme-right National Front on Saturday March 10th as the NF gathered in the cosmopolitan port city to celebrate “White Pride World Wide”, in a demonstration and counter-demonstration both contained by a strongly-biased South Wales Police. [Read more...]

NCAFC Solidarity Action With PCS Union Budget Day Strike

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is encouraging students to get involved in the national strike of PCS Trade Union members on Wednesday 20th March (Budget Day), as hundreds of thousands of Civil Service members take action against Government attacks.

Civil Servants in PCS who are overwhelmingly low paid, have had their pay frozen for the past four years, which is the equivalent of a 20% pay cut over that time. In addition, pension contributions have increased, the pensionable age has been raised to 68, and recruitment freezes in many Departments has meant huge understaffing and resulting pressure on existing workers.

The Government is also attempting to remove or erode a raft of terms and conditions for civil service workers (those who work in services such as Tax Offices, Jobcentres, the Home Office, the courts, and many more) that have been fought for and won by the unions over the years, including leave entitlements, sick pay, ability to job share, childcare provision, promotions, and attendance management (i.e. disciplinary procedures over sick absence). For more information on the campaign, please see the PCS website.

The NCAFC supports the PCS strike and the plans it has for upcoming further action including a walkout on the 5th April. NCAFC is encouraging its members to organise solidarity visits from universities, schools and colleges to local picket lines. If you aren’t sure where your local picket line might be, please post a comment below or on our Facebook event and we’ll do our best to find out for you.

There are also Budget Day rallies in many towns and cities. Find out about your local rally here.

We are asking NCAFC activists to sign this statement to show their support. Write your name below and we’ll add you in.

Next Wednesday members of the PCS union which represents 250,000 civil servants and commercial sector workers will be taking industrial action.

They are demanding a 5% pay rise to compensate for the real-term pay cut of the same amount over the past 5 years of civil service pay freezes, an end to the attacks on public-sector pensions and Terms & Conditions and for increased investment in the welfare state.

The government claim they have to continue to cut civil servants’ salaries and pensions in the same way they’re cutting welfare, healthcare and education to pay for the deficit. As student activists we’ve heard this story before and we won’t fall for it.

When they make tax cuts for millionaires, refuse to clamp down on corporate tax evasion and relish in making the top richest people in the country richer to the tune of billions of pounds a year then it’s clear to us that there is the money, but that their priority is to make sure the wrong people get it!

As with previous disputes, the NCAFC extends its solidarity to the strikers on Wednesday and supports the continued campaign PCS members plan to wage against the government’s austerity agenda. We believe that the this agenda, under the guise of ‘tough choices’, represents an attack on working-class people and students the likes of which we have not seen before for a long time. Part of the reason they can get away with what they are doing is down to the fractious and weak reality of the workers movement, and the unambitious and sometimes cynical nature of labour and student movement leaders.

We urge local students anti-cuts groups to visit their local picket-lines (Jobcentres, tax offices, local DVLA sites etc.) and if you are a student in or around London to attend the strike rally 12 noon–2pm at Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament. Bring banners, placards and noise.

Michael Chessum, President of University of London Union, NCAFC NC and NUS NEC
Rosie Huzzard, Sheffield College, PCS DWP Sheffield Branch Young Members Officer and NCAFC NC
Matthew Reuben, Royal Hollway, NCAFC NC
Thais Yanez, Birkbeck, NCAFC NC LGBTQ Officer, Trans* Place
Hannah Webb UCLU Community Officer, UCLU External Affairs and Campaigns Officer elect
Max Crema, Edinburgh University Students’ Association Vice President Services
Edmund Schluessel, NUS Wales NEC
James McAsh Edinburgh University Students’ Association President
Beth Redmond, Liverpool John Moores University, NCAFC NC
Arianna Tassinari, NUS International Students Committee
Liam McNulty, Unison Higher Education, London Young Labour Campaigns Organiser (pc)

Motion passed by Royal Holloway SU on anti-Roma and traveller racism

The general meeting of Royal Holloway University of London’s student union passed this motion (proposed by NCAFC supporters) unanimously on 5 February. Please adapt it to put to your student union. [Read more...]

Sussex students occupy against privatisation – please send solidarity

sussexoccupationSussex University students have today occupied the Bramber conference centre! The occupation is in opposition to the University selling off services. [Read more...]