by James Moran, Birmingham Socialist Students and UCU member The University and College Union (UCU) who represent academic staff at Universities, including casualised and post graduate teaching staff, have called a two day strike on the 25th and 26th May! Their central demands include a 5% pay rise and action on the continuing gender pay [...]
This year’s NUS conference could potentially mark an important turning point for the student movement. The election of Malia Bouattia, who ousted the right-wing incumbent, marked an important shift towards the left. But as well as electing a more left-wing leadership, NUS conference also endorsed a fighting strategy for opposing austerity in education. Most significantly, [...]
The enormous #feesmustfall movement that swept South Africa in the autumn has inspired students around the world and was able to score a substantial victory against the ANC government. Below is a letter written by student socialists in South Africa, describing the #outsourcingmustfall campaign which has developed out of this. The letter is a request [...]
by Birmingham Socialist Students On Wednesday the 16th of March, the second consultation about the restructuring of the Birmingham Modern Languages department took place. The first consultation meeting attracted only a handful of students after they were given just 24 hours notice from the University. Yet on the back of a one-thousand-strong petition in support [...]
by James Moran, Birmingham Socialist Students and UCU member
The University and College Union (UCU) who represent academic staff at Universities, including casualised and post graduate teaching staff, have called a two day strike on the 25th and 26th May! Their central demands include a 5% pay rise and action on the continuing gender pay gap (over £6,000 per year!) and growing casualization across the sector (where staff are employed on precarious short term or zero hours contracts). This follows 14.5% real terms wage cut since 2009 while Universities last year alone earned surpluses of £1.8bn. UCU is asking workers to ‘work to contract’, refusing to work overtime; and to refuse to take on voluntary duties such as covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues. » Read more..
This year’s NUS conference could potentially mark an important turning point for the student movement. The election of Malia Bouattia, who ousted the right-wing incumbent, marked an important shift towards the left. But as well as electing a more left-wing leadership, NUS conference also endorsed a fighting strategy for opposing austerity in education. Most significantly, for the first time in several years, the union will organise a national demonstration in the autumn term.
This is the context in which a right-wing campaign for students unions to leave NUS has been initiated. And while many students have been rightly frustrated at the lack of a lead given by NUS over the recent period, in the view of Socialist Students, it would be a serious mistake to split the union at this time. Where referendums have been called we therefore urge all anti-austerity students to campaign and vote against disaffiliation.
But saying ‘yes to NUS’ should not mean an uncritical endorsement of the actions (or inactions) of its leadership in recent years. Socialist Students has been highly critical of the failure of NUS leaderships past to offer a lead in organising resistance. And even with a new, more left wing team in charge, it is still vital that we continue put pressure on NUS to use its resources and authority to organise mass action to defend students.
This means we are not prepared to ‘wait’ for official blessing before organising the fightback on our campuses. And it means that our campaign against disaffiliation should be about saying yes to a fighting NUS, not just a discount card.
NUS does not exist in a political vacuum. In fact, in some ways, its conference acted as a kind of dress rehearsal for the series of attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership which took place in the lead up to the local elections. A key strategy employed by the Blairites in Labour students was to attempt to conflate any criticism of the Israeli regime with the very serious charge of anti-Semitism. This smear is unfortunately made easier because many on the left do not take a clear, socialist approach to the national question in Israel/Palestine – calling for two states, Israel and Palestine, which would be possible on a socialist basis. (For more info on a socialist analysis of the conflict see http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/7566)
The campaign for disaffiliation has been initiated by the right-wing and is linked with the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership. But while right-wing backed disaffiliation campaigns have been initiated on many of our campuses, the government has included in the Queen’s Speech a HE bill which threatens enormous attacks on education. Fee hikes, market forces running wild and a proliferation of profit making private unis are all planned by the Tories. This grave attack on higher education, which goes alongside the swingeing cuts and privatisation taking place across schools and colleges, requires a strong, united response from our movement. That’s why the most important task we face is building a mass movement to defeat the government and end austerity, beginning with a huge mobilisation in the autumn. If you want to be part of helping to build that movement, join us, get involved and help build the fightback today.
After NUS conference: Fight disaffiliation, defend Malia Bouattia, build for mass action in the autumn
by Claire Laker-Mansfield, Socialist Students National Organiser
This year’s National Union of Students (NUS) conference took place amid a growing mood of anger at austerity in education, and renewed eagerness to fight back. This mood was reflected in the conference, particularly in the outcome of the leadership elections and with some of the motions passed. » Read more..
Further Education college lecturers who are members of the EIS/FELA tradeunion are taking strike action against a pay “deal” which has been imposed unfairly by college managements and the SNP Scottish government.
This pay deal does not meet the increased cost of living and comes on the back of effective pay cuts for years. Taking strike action, with all workers organised in a trade union, is the most powerful way to fight back against low pay and austerity cuts. That is why students should fully support the strikes as the lecturers are fighting not just for fair pay but against cuts and for a better education for all. » Read more..
Our right to education is under attack. The government’s plans – for universities, schools and colleges – have to be fought. That’s why Socialist Students has taken the initiative of launching Education Fightback, with a day of action taking place on 26 February. Join us and get involved.
In universities the government’s HE ‘Green paper’ threatens:
Embracing socialist ideas in the age of austerity
Claire Laker-Mansfield, National organiser Socialist Students
Socialist Students met for an enthusing national conference. Around 100 students packed out the venue, with virtually every seat taken. The day’s discussions showed a flourishing organisation, confident in socialist ideas and leading in the fight to defend education.
In the main, delegates were university students. But this year, for the first time, a large group of school and college students attended.
Throughout the day’s discussions tremendous enthusiasm for socialist ideas shone through. There was a sense that these ideas are resurgent – as international developments like the campaign to elect “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders in the US attest. » Read more..
Socialist Students national conference
The Socialist Students national conference will be taking place on Saturday 13 February and will be hosted by Coventry Socialist Students in the following venue: Coventry SQ Club, Ringway Whitefriars, Coventry, CV1 2DT. The venue is a short walk from Coventry Railway station This is an important political event for student activists, and is a crucial opportunity for Socialist Students nationally to meet and set a way forward for our work in the year ahead.
The agenda for the conference is below.
9.30am – 10.30am Registration
10.30am – 12.30pm Building the student movement in the age of austerity
12.30pm – 1.45pm Lunch break There will also be a 30 minute discussion on building Socialist Students in schools and colleges (to be attended mainly by current school/college students) during this break
1.45pm – 3.30pm Debate/ forum: Corbyn, Labour, and the struggle for political representation for workers and youth
3.30pm – 3.45pm Break
3.45pm – 5.15pm Motions Debate a chance to discuss and decide on the political direction of Socialist Students for the next year
5.15pm – 5.30pm Elections for the Socialist Students Steering Committee
5.30pm-6.00pm The struggle is international Greetings/skype link with student activists involved in the fightback around the world Breaks will also take place where required within sessions
Coventry Socialist Students have provided some helpful advice for you when you are planning your travel for the day:
- The venue is based in Coventry City centre – less than 5 mins walk from either the train or bus station.
- Coventry train station is 20-30 min train ride from Birmingham New st, with trains every 15-20 mins from 5am to midnight
- National Express goes to Coventry bus station – Pool Meadow
- Megabus to Coventry actually goes to Warwick university/Cannon park – which is on the outskirts of Coventry and a 25-30 mins bus ride away (though only less than 10 mins lift in car if needed)
- However the best Megabus destination (practically every Megabus route goes via here) is Birmingham airport from where you can get a train from Birmingham International station to Coventry - which takes around 10 mins with one every 15. Again these run from 5am – midnight.
- If you require a lift to the venue from one of the Coventry based stations this is possible for those who really need it.
Social Coventry Socialist Students invite everyone to join them for a drink in the Centre after the conference.
Accommodation There is a limited amount of accommodation available for those who need to stay in Coventry on either Friday or Saturday night. Please let us know if you need this as soon as possible (the sooner the better) or by 5 February at the very latest.
Every society is entitled to send up to ten elected delegates to the conference. There will also be space for visitors if there are more people interested in attending. Please submit lists of delegates once agreed or by Wednesday 10 February at the very latest.
Timetable for motions and proposals
Any Socialist Students society is entitled to submit a motion or proposal for discussion at the conference, provided it is agreed on democratically by the group. The motions should be submitted via email. The deadline for motions submissions has been extended to Monday 8 February at 9am. The deadline for amendments is now Thursday 12 February.
Timetable for elections
At last year’s conference we elected a steering committee of 8 people. People who want to stand for next year’s committee will need to put themselves forward via email by Monday 8 February.
In order to make the cost of travel fairer for people who will have to come a long way to attend the conference, we will be operating a pooled fare. This means that the average travel cost for everyone attending is calculated and those with lower than average travel expenses will be asked to contribute the difference, while those with above average costs will be entitled to draw money out of the pool. This way everyone should pay the same amount to get to the conference. I’d ask you to please start looking into cheap transport options as soon as possible as this brings down the cost for everyone.
Student day of action 9 Dec: See here for details of local events
National demonstration: Sat, 12 Dec, Central London
The bombing in Syria has begun. Across Britain, millions of people have been sickened by the rush to war. Lots of us are especially angry at Labour MPs who spoke in favour of dropping bombs and against their leader, Jeremy Corbyn. This military action will lead to the deaths of many innocent men, women and children. Even more will also be forced to flee the region, worsening the refugee crisis.
More bombs won’t stop ISIS. In fact British intervention in the Middle East – including the recent wars in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan – has played a part in sowing the seeds of the deadly chaos engulfing Syria and the rise of ISIS. This war is really about the Tories’ wish to maintain Britain’s ‘prestige’ as a world power. It will also be a bonanza for the big business arms companies, whose profits have already increased as a result of the vote in Parliament. » Read more..