Dorset’s fourth Radical Bookfair will take place on the 8th August 2020 at Dorchester Corn Exchange. Invitations will go out soon, if you’d like to be involved please get in touch:
University staff represented by the UCU at 60 universities across the UK are on an 8 day strike starting November 25! Why? Universities have failed to uphold promises about pension contributions and pay, equality, casualisation, and workload.
According to the Universities and Colleges Employers Associations (UCEA), pay has dropped by around 17% in real terms since 2009, even with an overall £2 billion surplus at HEs. On top of this, the disability pay gap remains at 8.7%, the gender pay gap at 15%, and black academic staff earn 12 to 13% less than white colleagues. Over 170,000 staff are also employed through fixed or casual contracts, leading to employment uncertainty.
Conservative union laws have meant that although, overall, more than 75% of UCU union members voted for strike action, only universities that met the 50% participation threshold have been able to call for a strike. This is a perfect example of the political effort expended to suffocate the labour movement in the UK. Thus, it is worth remembering that although not all universities are on strike, all universities are affected by the above statistics.
Corporatisation of Education
This strike needs to be understood in the context of the general trend of ‘corporatising’ universities and education at large. Universities are being increasingly run as a business which means that any and all costs need to be suppressed for the sake of the bottom line. As such, staff have salaries stop rising, recruitment decreases, workload increased, and contact hours with students are slashed. This makes it impossible for universities to meet their social and civic duties of educating the next generation. Students become nothing more than the products on the assembly line of the university factory.
I’m a student, this strike is inconvenient
Strikes are inconvenient for everyone. No one wants to be out on a picket line to demand for their most basic rights, especially during the winter season. If your university is on strike, it’s important to remember that a strike is a last resort and happens only when employers refuse to do the right thing. It’s a university’s unwillingness to treat staff fairly that has led us here.
It’s also important to remember that drops in staff working conditions also means that your quality of education decreases, even though your fees keep going up. We believe that teachers and students deserve the best, and that the way to get that is by fighting together.
How can I support the strike?
If your institution is on strike, do not cross the picket line! Better yet, why not join it and have a few conversations with striking staff to better understand their concerns. Picketers also always enjoy a bit of music and some snacks and warm drinks. If you choose to join the picket line, make sure you follow UCU picket line guidance.
If your university is not on strike, we would encourage you to pick a day and visit the nearest picket line. You can also print out our leaflets supporting the strike (long version / short version) or these ones prepared by the UCU and distribute them on campus. We would also urge you to have conversations with your professors about these strikes and their work conditions as well as ask for your student union to endorse the strike – which the National Union of Students has already done.
It goes without saying that the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) are fully behind this and every struggle fought by the working class in the UK and around the world. There is no doubt that education has a central role in our society. The worsening conditions under which our educators work under, from university professors to scientists in research institutions, are symptomatic of the steady onslaught of capitalism which has submitted all activities to the interest of profit.
We believe, as we always have, that it is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. Only then, absent the constant roadblocks set up by capital, can education, and indeed all social services, achieve their mission of empowering workers and advancing science.
With this in mind, we call on our members across all Branches and Industrial Unions to take concrete actions in supporting this strike.
If you are employed by an educational institution, please reach out to the IWW’s Education Workers Union (IU620) on firstname.lastname@example.org
Download our leaflets in support of the strike:
This handful of cases from a recent stall perfectly illustrates once again the horrors of the UK benefit system, and why we need to keep pushing. We are determined to keep going until real change is made.
Ernie is a young man who has, for some time, been claiming the Limited Capability for Work element of Universal Credit. He approached us in a state of some anxiety. An administrative cock-up had left him facing a loss of his Universal Credit income.
His case was undergoing reassessment. He had duly turned up for his medical assessment, but they were running behind and could not see him on the day of his appointment. An alternative date and time were arranged. When Ernie turned up for the rearranged appointment, he was told he had missed it. He went straight to the Jobcentre and explained the situation. He was told to put a note…
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Another quickish listing of upcoming events for the next week. In passing, I’d just like to plug the new Spycops resource, and also to mention that the Nottingham College dispute has ended after a new deal was accepted, as has the one by non-academic staff at the University of Birmingham.
The big thing coming up soon is the eight days of strike action being taken at around 60 universities over pensions, pay and conditions by UCU members, from Monday 25th through to Wednesday 4th December. A similar ballot by Unison members working in non-academic roles returned a majority favouring strike action, but didn’t pass the 50% turnout needed. Having said that, UCU Left advise that “Successful pay ballots allow other workers who are not in UCU to participate in strikes. (It is unlawful for employers to discriminate by union membership and branches can extract statements…
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This book is a thoughtful and easy-to-read account of the author’s experiences in various industrial workplaces in the US in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We’ve all heard about militant steel workers in Chicago, but there was a lot more going on than that, and at a variety of workplaces, many of which never made the headlines. Dave’s book takes us through some of these stories, as we learn about the shop-floor dynamics, the relationships with his co-workers, the ways work is organised, racial divisions, how to oppose migration raids and the nightmares of coming up against the union bureaucracy. The depiction of personal lives and relationships is really touching. The best way to get a feel for the book is to read this interview with Dave:
The humble approach of the author makes him a personable and likeable guy. Even though he was a militant (in political…
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About two years ago, responding to the controversies around the London Anarchist Bookfair in late 2017, I mentioned my worry that people throwing around unsubstantiated charges of antisemitism could lead to a “boy who cried wolf” effect that would undermine the social taboo that currently makes antisemitism politically toxic. The two years since then… they have really, really not been good ones as far as people casually doing that exact thing have been concerned.
This week, the Guardian commentator Jonathan Freedland publicly accused Majid Mahmood, a Birmingham Labour councillor, of making antisemitic comments, a claim that was picked up and amplified by the Guardian liveblog. Except that, as it turned out, the Majid Mahmood who’d made the antisemitic comments was a totally different bloke living in a different city, meaning that Freedland had just made a high-profile and very serious claim that turned out to be totally false
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The current system is in crisis, everyone can see this. What we cannot see is an alternative. We wrote this pamphlet for a discussion about alternatives. The first step is to understand where we are coming from, how the current system emerged. We then have to get to grips with how the system works, or rather, how it makes us work. There would be no alternative to this system if it would not show clear signs of crisis – so we have to know what actually causes this crisis. There would be no alternative if those who are exploited and oppressed would not have tried to fight for a better society. We have to learn from those who came before us.
We don’t write this as experts. We write it as workers, who don’t just want to stare into the headlights of global events as victims. If we don’t…
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