By Rowan Gavin
We are the morning greeting. We are cold boots on colder ground. We are the smiles in the winter sunshine. We are the chants and the songs and the stiff-limbed dances. We are the fascinator of freedom, the little red coat of resistance and packet line soylidarity. We are the educators, learning in a new classroom. We are the outrage, and the laughter. We are here to fight the power. We are power.
By Lewis Martin
In the last few weeks Bury Football Club has been facing eradication due to complete mismanagement by their owner. Whilst this is sad for the fans, it isn’t the first time that we have heard this story this summer, let alone in the last few years. Bury are the victims of the shifting focus of the English Football League and club owners from the survival of teams to the creation of profit.
By Paul Lievens, Banana Link Communications Officer
Bananas have been part of our diet for thousands of years, and are the most popular fruit in the world, with over 100 billion bananas eaten around the world every year. In the UK, each of us eats on average around 10 kg, or 100 bananas, per year. Grown across the tropical regions of the world, banana export production provides an essential source of income for hundreds of thousands of rural households in developing countries. However, many of the plantation workers who produce our bananas fail to earn a living wage and do not have their labour rights respected, while the intensive use of agrochemicals harms the health of workers and the surrounding environment.
By KCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign
Content warning: mentions sexual harassment, homophobic abuse
This week, the KCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign released a short film revealing the struggles of migrant cleaners at King’s College London, a day before management made a recommendation to the College Council as to whether to end the outsourcing of cleaning. Through the film, cleaners speak in their own words about the violence of the outsourcing model and how mistreatment at KCL is normalised.
By Sarah Amsler
It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.
‘The university’ is a fertile space within which to practice radical imagining and world-making today. I do not mean that actually-existing universities, in the UK or elsewhere, necessarily provide space for such work. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that the spaces for critique and creative thinking in higher education have shrunk as forces of commodity fetishism, privatisation, competition and authoritarian modes of control have permeated university governance. Continue Reading
By Max Savage and Ellen Musgrove
“…in the short term I would be happy to reconstruct a social democratic compromise which aimed to decrease inequalities…I recognise that this will not remove the gross injustices inherent within capitalist structures. To reiterate, capitalism is the enemy, but neoliberalism seems to me to be worse than social democracy. Perhaps we should set our sights a little lower than capitalism and attempt to slay the neoliberal beast.”
– Adam Tickell, ‘Reflections on “Activism and the Academy”’ (1995)
Professor Tickell, once apparently an advocate of radical social reorganisation, is now Sussex University Vice Chancellor and one of neoliberalism’s torchbearers in the UK higher education sector. While it is tempting to conclude from this transformation that Tickle is a duplicitous, cowardly and parasitic individual, there is in fact a larger point to be drawn: very often our politics are not forged by our own choosing but by our position. Once you are earning an obscene salary and have turned a blind eye to staff on your campus earning under the living wage, perhaps neoliberalism isn’t so beastly after all.
By Ana Oppenheim, NUS International Students’ Campaign
What is happening?
Academic staff at over 60 universities will be going on strike for 14 working days, starting from Thursday February 22. This means many lectures will be cancelled – but even when they are not, we are encouraging students in universities that are on strike to not go to class and, if possible, not enter university buildings at all during strike days.
by Alex Powell
As a Graduate Teaching Fellow, I hold a position that straddles the roles of student and staff, giving me a slightly unusual perspective on the UCU strike action that begins today. It is from this conflicted, complex and, at times like these, compromised position that I wish to lay out why I will be standing with colleagues from 61 other institutions around the country in joining the strike action.
by Bradley Allsop
CW: mentions sexual harassment
A teacake and a portable phone charger. Unlikely objects to trigger a tirade against the state of academic practices in the UK, but here you are, about to read one anyway.
by Lewis Martin
CW: death, disease, corpses.
Last week we heard that the number of people applying to become nursing students has fallen by 19% in the past year. As this is the first application cycle since government cuts to NHS bursaries, for many this will not be much of a shock. It’s clear that the government’s decision to take away this provision that allowed many students to attend their courses will have serious detrimental effects, not only for the institutions that train nurses but for the NHS as a whole.
by Bradley Allsop
We live in turbulent times. The political establishment has been rocked again and again this last year. The government is embattled in a way it hasn’t been for 7 years and that rarest of things in British politics, change, is peeking its head above the parapet. What’s more, for the first time in my lifetime, it seems my generation is willing to be an active participant in all this. June’s election saw the highest rise in youth turnout in British political history – it reached its highest absolute level since 1992. It falls to those of us already engaged to fan this flame and help it spread beyond the ballot box, building the political courage and competencies of our fellows. Nowhere offers a better opportunity for us to do this than on university campuses.
By SOAS Justice for Workers
Yesterday, on the 8th anniversary of the deportation of 9 SOAS cleaners, students of SOAS began an occupation of the Directorate on the Main Building first floor. We are taking direct action in resistance to the planned shut down of the refectory and outrageous threats made by management to the livelihoods of members of our community. We stand in solidarity with the catering staff, and all the exploited workers of SOAS, in their fight for dignity and respect.
By Laura Potts
Maintenance grants are a thing of the past and student accommodation costs are rising by the year. Is it any wonder that 80% of students worry about having enough money to get by? As a student myself I am surrounded by people whose rent is higher than their student loan, leading them to make sacrifices on important aspects of their lives, such as their diet. In many cases, students must choose to let their own health suffer as a result of lack of funds.
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
By Lewis Martin of People and Planet UEA
This week saw People and Planet’s annual University League table released. For some universities this has been a cause for celebration – Nottingham Trent, for example, have climbed to the top of the table. However, for UEA and its students the league’s findings should be a cause for concern. Since last year Norwich’s biggest university has dropped 14 places from 34 to 48 in the table, losing 13 points in the process. This is the inevitable result of the way the university has behaved in the last year with regards to various environmental issues.
by Carmina Masoliver
On a recent trip to Hanoi, in Vietnam, I wandered the streets to see where the day would take me. This included going into lots of little art galleries, all housing incredible oil paintings and photography. In L’Institut Français de Hanoi, there was an experimental installation where a series of life-size photographs leaked onto the floor, and a white sculpture hung down from the ceiling like a cloud. Upstairs there were lots of neat illustrations from a range of artists. There was one smaller gallery that stood out from the rest where the eccentric art dealer with short turquoise-dyed hair spoke about the meaning behind each painting, telling me about Vietnam’s history with lacquer paintings as I admired a large glittering image of space.Continue Reading
by Julian Ignacio Canlas
On 9th and 31st March, a series of protests unfolded throughout France. Students and workers came together to reject the reform on the labour code proposed by the current French Minister of Labour, Myriam El Khomri. But what does this reform — the El Khomri law — really represent? And, with 71% of French people against the El Khomri law, why is it considered to be detrimental for wage earners?
by Alex Hort-Francis
Last week saw a 24 hour strike by London Underground staff, with commuters and tourists left to make their own way across the city. The dispute centred on a new, much-heralded night-time service, which unions claim would impose changes to the working conditions of Underground staff without proper consultation. Union members voted overwhelmingly for strike action, with concerns about safety on the Underground voiced.
Watching people’s responses to the Tube strike is an exercise in forced deja-vu, with the same arguments repeated across the web: ‘plenty of people work harder for more hours and less pay’, ‘if they adon’t like it they’re free to find another line of work’ and the classic ‘they should suck it up and work harder like the rest of us’. The common denominator being that because the striking workers already have better pay and conditions than many of the city’s commuters they aren’t justified to take action to stop these conditions changing without their consent.
There is actually already a term for this: ‘crab mentality’ (although I happen to think ‘crab logic’ is a bit snappier).Continue Reading
by Robyn Banks
The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th March in 1975, but the day actually has its roots in a variety of strikes and class struggles across industrialised nations long before.
On March 8th in 1857 there was a strike at a New York City garment factory. Here women and girls between the ages of 13 and 25, mostly Jewish, Russian and Italian immigrants, worked 81 hours a week for three dollars, of which one and a quarter went for room and board. The strike was sparked when factory foremen, noticing that the women were less ‘energetic’ if they were allowed to eat before working, changed the factory opening time to 5AM. For a day the factory workers marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, a ten hour day and equal rights for women. Their ranks were broken up by police. Fifty one years later, on March 8th 1908, their sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again in honour of the 1867 March, this time demanding the vote, an end to sweatshops and child labour. And then, in November 1909, came the uprising of the 20,000.
by Justice for Cleaners SOAS
The Justice for Cleaners SOAS campaign is led by the cleaning staff at SOAS, with the support of students and university staff. The cleaners campaign began in 2006, and in 2008 won decent London living wage. Last year, after a series of strikes, the campaign won their demands for sick pay, holiday pay, and pensions.
However, the campaign has not yet won their key demand of the cleaning staff, which is to be brought back in house (to work directly to SOAS instead of a subcontractor). Since the early 1990s SOAS cleaners have been subcontracted by a succession of private companies, all of which have been allegations of victimization and intimidation of the cleaning staff, including persecution of the J4C campaigners and trade union representatives, and through attempts to undermine working conditions.
by Chris Jarvis.
The garment industry is infamous for its appalling track record on workers’ rights. Every year, we receive news reports of another in a long list of abuses – from the Rana Plaza factory collapse, to the workers at PT Kizone who were denied their redundancy payments of multinational corporations until public pressure forced them to give in. Sweatshop is a word that resonates among the public as synonymous with the vast majority of garment production.
This is why it’s so important that UEA is standing up for workers’ rights and has finally implemented its decision to affiliate to the Worker Rights Consortium. This has come after a four year campaign by the People & Planet society and the Student Union at UEA, with mass petitioning, ongoing lobbying and the largest ‘nearly naked protest’ in the country.Continue Reading
by Ella Gilbert and Francis Bell
Bartenders, waiters, baristas and other hospitality workers have one thing above all else in common: we are over-worked, under-paid and misrepresented. We are both bartenders, and we deal with drunken idiots, entitled twats, and aggressive yobs on a daily basis. Woman bartenders also have to deal with unwanted sexual advances and harassment, comments about our clothing choice, and implicit assertions about who we are and what we’re doing there. Despite all of this, we value our work, and we want to do it well – for those that actually appreciate what we’re doing, and for those that are well-behaved and fun to spend time with.
All of these things were important at the inception of the Norwich Bartenders’ and Hospitality Union. Norwich has a pub for every night of the year, as well as its fair share of cafés, restaurants, hotels and other service industry employers. We are committed to a multi-faceted approach to the hospitality industry: we want to improve our members’ skills and create a pool of people who are committed to, and good at, their jobs. We also want to challenge the daily issues faced by workers in the sector – discrimination, low pay, difficult customers, demanding management and limited employment rights. On top of that, we want to educate people in the sector on their rights and represent them in any employment disputes or grievances that arise with their employers. In that regard, we’re committed to forming positive relationships with management, rather than antagonising them, and demonstrating that the NBHU is a collection of workers who really care, and are the kind of employees you want, and need, to run a business in Norwich.