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Who Are We?
Founded in 2018, we are a broad coalition of students involved in campaigns to transform our colleges, schools, universities, education and society.
Some of us got involved in activism fighting cuts and for free education. Many of us organised to defend our staff in last year’s Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) strike over pensions. We wanted to continue fighting for free education, to democratise our institutions, to reverse the marketisation of the education system, to keep working in solidarity with staff, and to battle for things like lower rent, better mental health funding and action on climate change.
We can’t fight solely through isolated, defensive, local campaigns. These are national (and international) problems, which require linked-up campaigns and solutions. That’s why the Student Left Network exists; so we can unite our struggles, share skills and debate ideas, and organise together on a national scale.
We also seek to transform the National Union of Students so that it is a radical, democratic body that fight on the key struggles students face. If that sounds like something you’d like to get involved with us get in touch!
Students link up with workers in the climate strikes!
By Josh Lovell, UCU activist and PhD student, Cambridge
The Youth Strikes for Climate have made headlines over the past year with waves of school and college walk-outs across the globe, demanding immediate action on climate change. The last one on 20 September was the biggest one yet.
The Youth Strikes have been inspiring, and have helped to put the fight against climate change at the top of the agenda within the education sector and sections of the trade union movement. On the 20th UCU supported 30-minute actions on campuses so that workers can take up the fight alongside students.
We need to extend theses actions in the October strike and develop democratic networks and committees to escalate action.
This issue isn’t going away, and only in coordination can workers and students take the necessary steps to halt the ecological collapse that has already started.
We need to start thinking about what kind of action to take. It could include organising major direct actions, demonstrations, marches, public meetings, banner drops, flash-mobs, occupations and sit-ins. And all of this can be done by co-organising with workers and trade union branches. We should encourage workers to walk-out collectively and join in these actions where possible.
University research funding is largely beyond democratic oversight, and often targeted at technology and processes actively worsening climate change. Central to our demands must be a radical call for democratic student and worker control over the financing of academic research to hasten work on fighting climate change. Directing action at the offices of university administration and finance departments – where these sorts of decisions are currently made – would send a strong message that we are serious about shutting down our cities and campuses in the name of tackling climate change.
When college management have passed “Green New Deal” policies or similar, we must ensure that they are genuinely radical policies — more than banning the use of single-used bottles — and are implemented in full.
What has been missing from much activism is engagement with students who are entering – and workers who are employed in – the energy, technology, manufacturing, agricultural and transport sectors. Universities are the main bases from which organisations recruit into these industries, and without workers on side in the companies that are fuelling climate change, we are never going to effectively transition their output and focus. We should engage with those considering careers in these sectors most responsible for pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and win them around to the idea of changing these organisations from within.
Many climate scientists agree that unless there is a fundamental re-wiring of our economy before 2030, then it is (basically) game over. The exploitation of the working class and the unrestricted extraction of finite resources – only fulfilling the needs of the rich at our expense – has driven us to this crisis.
In order to avoid climate catastrophe, we will have to overthrow it, and mass action by students and workers is the only route.
Greenwich University Cafe workers organise!
The café workers at Greenwich University – outsourced to BaxterStorey – are campaigning for London Living Wage (£10.55). When they announced the campaign BaxterStorey immediately gave them a 50p per hour pay rise which brought them up to £9.75. While the workers and their union United Voices of the World appreciate the increase it’s still 80p short of the LLW. I’s still a poverty wage in London and therefore unacceptable! More: www.uvwunion.org.uk/university-of-greenwich
Support your lecturers!
University staff in UCU are being balloted for strike action over pay equality, job security, workload and pay deflation. The ballot runs until 30 October.
Working conditions in higher education have been deteriorating. The gender pay gap is over 15%; over 100,000 staff across the sector are on fixed-term contracts; academic staff work over 50 hours in a typical week; and in the past ten years pay has declined by 20% in real terms.
In 2018 an impressive strike forced pre-92 universities to back down on massive pension cuts, but since then employers have refused to compromise and now they’re trying again to impose higher pension contributions. Staff in those universities are also being balloted on that issue.
Support your lecturers and help build for a yes vote where you can!
By Maisie Sanders
Brexit is a right wing project; it was born of xenophobia and its victory will mean a boost for far-right ideas. Any form of Brexit will mean higher borders, throwing migrants under the bus, and damaging workers’ rights and environmental protections.
Students need to loudly oppose Brexit, hand in hand with trade unions on our campuses.
We need to campaign from a socialist remain perspective that makes the case for a pan-European socialist movement against austerity, neoliberalism and anti-migrant policies, for a Europe-wide Green New Deal and for a democratic, socialist Europe.
Unfortunately Labour Party Conference has voted to go into the general election without a clear position on Brexit – but Labour are still the only party who can make a referendum happen and stop Brexit. Students should campaign for a Labour government for free education, a worker-led fight against climate change and abolishing private schools!
Student Climate Activist Weekender, 2-3 November, Birkbeck University of London
The Amazon is burning, time is running out on climate change whilst our government, and the capitalists they serve, only see this as an opportunity for more profit. But a mass strike movement, led by young people and workers, is turning the tables on the global polluters.
This activist weekender hosted by the Student Left Network will be organising discussions between student lefties and radicals of all stripes with the aim of bringing together the fights for climate justice and social justice Whether you are just starting at university or college, whether you have done lots of activism before or just want to think about getting involved: we need you!
We’ll also be talking about how students and workers are fighting exploitation, in the gig economy, in the UCU lecturers’ union over pensions, pay, equality and workload, and other struggles in education.
Workshops and sessions will include:
Lessons from radical students movements around the world; Decarbonise your campus; Green New Deal, Fighting campus cuts, General Election, Direct Action training, Defend migrants.
The AGM section of the weekend will include debates and elections to the committee.
Hosted by Student Left Network, People & Planet and Young Greens
Find out more here: bit.ly/StCWk
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