education

SFEU statement on upcoming strikes

In a recent informal UCU poll, over 80% of those who voted, declared their opposition to the latest employers' offer. This offer, while it did represent some improvement on pay, did little to reassure University and College workers on the question of historical pay decline and on issues such as casualisation. The strike continues and we must force UCEA to come up with a much better deal. Education workers will stay out till they do.

Solidarity with the Strikers!

SFEU supports the upcoming Further and Higher Education strikes, due to begin on 1 February and to be spread over 18 days between then and the end of March. This is a welcome escalation and our best bet for a positive outcome (short of an all-out strike). This wave of strike action will seriously disrupt teaching right at the beginning of the new semester and beyond, but the key issues of growing casualization, wage theft, pension degradation and untenable workloads remain unresolved, universities need to be held to account. If our voices are still not heard, we need to get behind and implement the marking and assessment boycott, timed for maximum effect in May and June. 

We also encourage individuals to organise locally to tackle these problems, communicate with your colleagues who face the same conditions - strength in numbers gets results.

Solidarity with FE & Higher Education Workers voting for Strike Action

The Solidarity Federation Education Union (SFEU), welcomes the news that workers in Further and Higher education have voted to take strike action on pay and pensions. On both counts, the voting threshold was attained (some 84.9% in favour with a 60.2% turnout for strikes over pension cuts and 81.1% in favour with a 57.7% turnout on real term pay cuts).

Solidarity Federation Education Union

The Solidarity Federation Education Union (SFEU) is a new initiative, which grows out of the desire for connected struggle and defence of education workers across the board. In our small but growing Union we welcome all workers within the sector, from primary to higher education, and all roles within the industry, from caretakers, classroom assistants, through to teachers. While some of the existing unions can be fairly effective, many workplaces have no real union presence and workers are left to either defend themselves or have "agreements" imposed upon them. Furthermore, traditional British trade unionism tends to replicate rather than challenge divisions of workers along lines of grade, function, degree of precarity, and workplace by prioritising the interests of specific categories at the direct expenses of others. 

Education Workers

Working conditions in educational institutions are becoming more and more difficult. This is often linked to managers making cuts, establishing austerity measures, or asking all workers to do more for less.  We currently organise as a network of workers at University of Brighton, and have links to other educational institutions.

We aim to organise to improve these conditions on a day-to-day basis, trying to fight winnable disputes for caretakers, cleaners and hourly-paid lecturers alike. To resist the ways that these institutions are attacking the working conditions of all staff means working together, not establishing boundaries between academic and non-academic staff.

“Zero hours” contracts in Higher Education: the zero option…?

Five years ago, “zero hours” contracts came to the attention of the national media. While there is no one type of “zero hours” contract,  in all cases workers receive no guaranteed weekly hours or income. Workers are paid only for the actual hours worked, and the employer is under no obligation to provide any work. Their use by employers in very many sectors of the British economy has mushroomed in recent years. In 2006, possibly 0.5% of the workforce had “zero hours” contracts (130,000). According to the Labour Force Survey, 901,000 people (representing 2.8% of all workers) were on contracts that do not guarantee work in December 2017.

Solidarity with Mexican Teachers Against Police and State Violence

South London Solidarity Federation would like to express solidarity with members of the Mexican Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educacion teaching union, who have faced violent attack by the police and state.

The union, which is made up of teachers from the poorer southern states, is protesting new mandated teacher evaluations. These it describes as ignoring the challenges of providing education in rural and underfunded areas whilst also enabling mass teacher layoffs. This is part of a wider programme of privatisation across Mexican education, removing the limited educational provision available to the poorest.

The response from the state has been brutal and violent. Police in Oaxaca opened fire on a teacher protest, killing eight. Two of the unions officials have also been arrested as part of the response.

Brighton uni: Hands Off Hastings Campus!

The University of Brighton wants to close its campus in Hastings. The closure of the campus would likely mean job losses, and it would be damaging to the town, and to access to Higher Education in the town and surrounding area. Brighton Solidarity Federation will be supporting the demonstration against the closure of the campus this Wednesday 13th April, meeting at the Level at 1pm.

Kinder Sports campaign school picket

On Friday 18th March, members of Solfed informed parents of Dartford Primary Academy, part of the Leigh Academies Trust, about the ongoing campaign to get Lydia’s wages back. Lydia worked for Kinder Sports, who are contracted by Leigh Academies Trust to provide Physical Education lessons and after school sports coaching. Lydia worked for Kinder Sports for 30 hours between 6th and 30th of October 2015 (including at Dartford Primary Academy) however she has not been paid for this work. We are supporting Lydia in demanding Kinder Sports pay her the full £360 she is owed.

Kinder, Pay Up

Lydia worked 30 hours for Kinder Sports between the 6th and 22nd of October. Kinder Sports have repeatedly tried to weasel out of paying Lydia fairly and promptly for the work she undertook for them.

Lydia and South London Solidarity Federation are now calling for a communications blockade on Twitter against Kinder Sports for unpaid wages. Kinder Sports, run by Matt Longhurst, provide after-school sports activities and some school hours provision at locations around Dartford in Kent.