YOUNG VOTERS – DAMNED IF WE DO AND DAMNED IF WE DON’T

by Alex Powell

Seeing the reaction to the snap general election result has been fascinating. For years, young people, particularly students, were criticised for not going out and voting. June 8th 2017 was the day we did. The result? A hung parliament that defied all expectations. In the lead up to the election, all the indications suggested that the Tories would win a landslide, even if the gap had begun to close in the final polls. In the end, this was far from how things played out, leaving Theresa May without a majority and forced to rely on the DUP to pass her key votes.

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THE UK POSTGRADUATE STUDY CRISIS MUST END

by Bradley Allsop

Postgraduate study and research is a vital part of the higher education sector and yet in the UK it is in crisis, riddled with multiple, endemic problems.

Firstly, there are systemic problems with postgraduate study in terms of who even gets through the door. Research has shown that, graduates who are women, from certain ethnic minority groups or from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to go on to study at postgraduate level. This is a social injustice in itself, and raises serious questions about the cultures and systems that exist within both academia and society more generally, but it is also to the detriment of academia: academia thrives on diversity.Continue Reading

STUDENTS NEED A REVOLUTION – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #1

by Bradley Allsop

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

Students have been at the forefront of progressive politics and change throughout the centuries. We were engaged in the 1848 revolutions that shook Europe, and front and centre of a wave of radical protest that shook the world in 1968. We played a part in challenging apartheid in South Africa and the continued Israeli abuse of the Palestinian people. Most recently we are leading the way on fossil fuel divestment.

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HUMAN RIGHTS — THE PRODUCT OF COLLECTIVE STRUGGLE

by Chris Jarvis

Yesterday was the International Human Rights Day, a brief moment when the world recognises and remembers the value and history of human rights. A central element to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights — the founding document of contemporary human rights legislation and protection — are the rights of workers. Article 20 of the declaration enshrines the right to freedom of association — the right to join and form trades unions. Trade union rights are further guaranteed through Article 23, which also recognises the right to free choice of employment, fair and favourable working conditions, protection against unemployment, equal pay for equal work and fair remuneration for an individual’s labour.

Traditional narratives around human rights are that they are a result of the work of international declarations, legislative frameworks and statesmanlike politicians. Unsurprisingly, none of these are true. It’s important to acknowledge that human rights, and particularly the rights of workers, have rarely been gifted to us through benevolent leaders. Rather, they have been won after long fought battles and collective struggle.Continue Reading

LIVING WAGE: NOT AN ACT OF CHARITY

by Katy Quigley, UEA Unison Equalities Rep

Over the last six weeks a campaign has slowly taken shape for the Living Wage to be introduced at UEA. Whilst this mainly affects the trade union Unison’s members, the two other trade unions on campus – UCU and Unite – as well as the Union of UEA students, have all begun to work together to ensure that those at the lowest end of the pay scale are paid a fair wage.

With the minimum wage set at £6.50 for those aged 21 and over, many people are confused about the point of a Living Wage campaign, or even what the Living Wage would mean in real terms. The reality is that the minimum wage simply does not pay enough to provide what members of the public, according to research undertaken by the University of Loughborough, deem an ‘acceptable standard of living’. At the moment this is set at £7.85. The Living Wage is not an act of charity: paying workers a fair wage for their living gives them dignity, reduces sickness and absence rates, and improves staff retention rates.  When a business does not pay the Living Wage it is local support groups, council services, and national welfare that pick up more of the bill to top up the worker’s income.

Employers who do not pay the Living Wage are therefore asking people to earn their poverty, and the University of East Anglia is unfortunately one of the culprits.

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A GREEN RE-INVIGORATION OF WELFARE IN BRITAIN: VIEWS OF NORWICH NORTH CANDIDATE ADRIAN HOLMES #1

by Adrian Holmes, Green Party Norwich North candidate.

Following the economic slump in 2009, the incoming coalition government announced an austerity program to tackle the budget deficit. Since 2010 the main thrust of these austerity measures has been to cut public spending and, in particular, to reduce the welfare budget. People on benefits including the disabled and those with chronic illness, are being targeted by the government in an attempt to get them into work and off the benefits system.

The Work Capability assessment (WCA) was introduced by the last Labour government, creating a new bureaucracy to test the right of welfare recipients to continue receiving benefits. The assessments, carried out by private contractors, have placed stress on people with disabilities to justify their right to help. The cost in wasted resources in holding the assessors to account is also high; with an increasing number of appeals being found against the companies used to carry out the assessment.

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