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..
Archive for featured
by James Moran, Birmingham Socialist Students and UCU member
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.
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..
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..
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..
“Socialism is back in fashion”. So claimed Charlotte Church as she spoke at an anti-austerity rally this June. And who could argue? This summer has not only seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets in protest against brutal Tory cuts. It has also witnessed a wave of enthusiasm for left-winger Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign – to the frenzied panic of the ruling Blairites.
» Read more..
Tamil Solidarity was set up in response to the terrible slaughter of tens of thousands of Tamil speaking people during the end of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009, and the brutal violence and repression that has continued in its aftermath. The campaign fights for the rights of workers and all oppressed groups in Sri Lanka. Socialist Students supports and works closely with Tamil Solidarity. We recently helped the campaign secure the backing of the National Union of Students. Over the last year, Tamil Solidarity has led campaigning against deportations to Sri Lanka. ISAI PRIYA, of the Tamil Solidarity steering committee and a socialist activist, outlines some of the work that the campaign has been involved in. » Read more..