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Today’s National Strike

Today across the country public sector workers will be striking.

Locally UCU, the union which many of our academic staff are a member, will be joining this action to campaign over changes to the USS pensions scheme.

A discussion on this and future action was brought to Union Council (a reflective and representative body of students who form the major decision making body of the Union between referendums and AGM’s).

It was decided that in general the Union will be supportive of future campaigns and action by UCU where the topic is linked to our campaigns against the cuts to higher education where the methods are not to the detriment of of students.

After lengthy discussion and debate it was decided that the Union could not support todays strike as it was not directly linked enough to our campaigns against higher education cuts to justify us supporting a strike involving the cancellation of lectures (which is always a difficult thing for a students union to be able to support.

If you would like to support the strike students are being welcomed to join. There will be a picket on campus until mid day, whe they are marching to the town centre to join other striking groups.

You can also join Southampton Students For Education at 10:30am on the red brick area outside the Union, who are a student group supporting the strike.

http://www.facebook.com/events/292239500816443/

If you are concerned about any missed lecture material contact your tutor to discus how to catch up. If any issues form that can’t be resolved contact Sasha Watson VP Academic Affairs, vpacademic (at) Soton (dot) ac (dot) uk

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3 Comments on "Today’s National Strike"

  1. Sam
    Gemma
    04/12/2011 at 11:08 pm Permalink

    There should be a basic understanding that the only way to defend education against cuts is by fighting through the unions. The most important action students can take is to support the strikes. They are superficially about pensions (which even alone is massively important, to all of us) but this is the biggest strike for thirty years because of the wider attacks to the public sector. The strike was also limited to pensions because we have some of the most restrictive trade unions laws in the world meaning we can only strike over issues directly affecting our work place. This needs to change, but again the only way to do this is by supporting unions and helping them to grow stronger.

    It’s completely unacceptanble that you as a union have failed to do this. It is pathetic, ignorant and shameful. Student and worker solidarity should be a central principle of any student union.

  2. Sam
    Sam Ling
    05/12/2011 at 8:46 am Permalink

    Hi Gemma,

    The central principles of any students’ Union is to be democratic and student led.

    The decision to support or not support the recent strike action was taken at Union Council, a representative and reflective body of student councillors and student leaders who debated and voted on if tehy thought we could support the action. This was an important event which is why it was taken to council, and we made sure there was a dicsussion on it.

    It was decided by a majority vote that the Union was unable to publicly support this action, however it was also decided that we should work with, and where we can support, UCU in future actions, where they dont severely effect the students.

    It was great to see many students supporting their lecturers, however there were also many students who were not happy that they were to miss lectures and material from their course through no fault of their own. It would have been wrong of us as a Union to act indipendantly of our members wishes.

    I would reassure you that we have very close links with UCU, and I meet regularly with represenatives of theirs. I did talk through the issues that student may have with the up coming action, and they understood that we may not be able to suppor them on this occation.

    If you would like to get more involved in campaigning against the changes and cuts taking place at the moment in higher education there is a student group that we are working very closely with who are campaiagning against the cuts.
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/sotonsfe/

    As a Union we are also working on how we can be most effective in the campaign against the cuts to higher education. We have recently been working with the above group, and taking stock of the current situtation in preparation of launching a new campain in the coming term to raise awareness of the changes, and attempt to have a local and national impact politically to maintain pressure for positive change from now to the coming general election.

  3. Sam
    Gemma
    05/12/2011 at 5:01 pm Permalink

    You’re right. There is nothing more important than democracy to a union. I’m condemning anyone on the council who voted against supporting the strikes. It is either naive or dishonest to argue that their struggle is not linked to ours.

    To only support the UCU (or any union) “where they dont severely effect the students” is to not support them when they need it most. Students and staff are inextricably linked. An attack on their pension should be regarded as an attack on us. Particularly in the context of what these strikes represent more widely.

    Otherwise how do we win? How do we defend education? How do we stop the HE white paper? “As a Union we are working on how we can be most effective in the campaign against the cuts to higher education.” You’ve turned your back on the best possible support students can give. It is naive to the extreme!

    Even as a pension dispute this does affect us directly. I don’t want to be taught by someone who has been forced to work to the age of 68, who has had their pay effectively cut and whose pension won’t match real inflation. I see these measures as harmful to the act of teaching and therefore harmful to our education. Plus the public sector is the biggest employer in the UK. Students are the future work force therefore it is in our interest to defend it.

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