education

"Hardcore troublemaker" anarchist group laughs off Millbank blame game

Solidarity Federation, which helped organise the Radical Workers' and Students Bloc at the NUS/UCU education march derides "absurd and patronising" attempts to blame it for damage at Tory HQ - and calls for increasing direct action against cuts.

News reporters have been indulging in some imaginative speculation over the last few days suggesting that the temporary occupation of the Conservative Party headquarters on November 10 was down to an internet conspiracy consisting of, among other groups, the Solidarity Federation. This is sensationalist nonsense.

Breaking glass, building solidarity?

A campaign of demonisation has started against the students who trashed Tory HQ on Wednesday, who are being portrayed as unthinking thugs. We re-publish here an article about what happened at Millbank by one of the participants.

Breaking glass, building solidarity?

 

Yesterday was glorious. It was inspiring, fun and yes, ‘anarchic.’ I spent most of it laughing and hollering into the brisk air on those sunlit streets. Scary, huh? The news reports seemed to think it was very serious. That may have been because of the seriousness of the cause for which the demonstration was organised, and indeed the violence of the attack on education by the politicians, directors of institutions and the rest, is far greater than anything demonstrators could have dreamed of doing, even the absolute plank who chucked a fire extinguisher from the roof.

School's IN

Merrywood School in Bristol closed back in September. Despite the huge local opposition, the council expected people to accept its authority in riding roughshod over the local community. But no-one was about to let them get away with it.

The buildings have now been occupied by local community groups, determined to keep it for the community. Various initiatives have been set up, with decisions being made collectively. Amongst the activities are ‘Community Construction', a group of builders, a timber recycling group, and various self-run courses and social activities for children. There are plans for free playschemes to provide childcare for working parents, a young mothers' group for 13-18-year-olds and activities for people with learning difficulties. The idea is to integrate and positively include all sections of the community.

Radical Workers' and Students' Bloc on Education March

On Wednesday 10th November 2010 the NUS and UCU have organised a demonstration in London in protest against the cuts in education. We are calling on all anarchists and militant workers and students to join us in forming a 'Radical Workers' and Students' Bloc' on the demonstration, arguing for all those in education to fight the cuts based on the principles of solidarity, direct action, and control of our own struggles – not for a struggle controlled by union bureaucrats and political ‘leaders’ who can only go so far.

Education, education, education

Higher Education faces significant changes in the coming years as universities move to a market based model. Tuition and top-up fees are perhaps the more visible signs of this but many institutions are now seeing changes which, among other things, significantly affect education workers’ terms and conditions. Union responses so far have seen conferences like NUS’s (National Union of Students) ‘Reclaim the Campus’ and UCU’s ‘Challenging the market in education’ (University and College Union)

Dirty dealings at the LSE

At the London School of Economics the cleaning contract is held by ISS, a multinational with lots of privatised cleaning contracts, including the London Underground. The cleaners are mainly Latin American with poor English and a fear of joining a union or speaking out about their lousy pay and conditions.

As a result of a campaign by Justice for Cleaners, the LSE has adopted the London Living Wage which is higher than the National Minimum Wage. However, it was phased in over three years of the new cleaning contract.

Worse, the workers are paying for it. They are currently paid £6 per hour but staffing has been cut and they have to work harder. This has affected standards of cleaning - management blame the new contract for mice in the Library.

Lewisham Occupation

Since 23rd April parents of pupils at Lewisham Bridge Primary School in Lewisham, south east London, and their supporters have been occupying a school roof. They are protesting against Lewisham Council’s plans to demolish the school building and replace it with a school for children aged 3 to16. The proposed new school will be squeezed into a site presently occupied by the primary school, which has less than half of the 835 pupils projected for the “all age” school, so play areas and room sizes would fall below government recommendations.

The new school would only have one primary class per year, instead of the current school’s two. Eleanor Davies, whose six year old son, attends the school, said:

Sweep ISS out of SOAS

On June 12th, cleaners working for ISS at the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) in London were called to a meeting by management. The cleaners were “processed” by immigration officials who detained nine of them as “illegal immigrants”. It was perhaps no coincidence that a picket of SOAS’ governing body demanding the reinstatement of victimised SOAS UNISON Branch Chair José Stalin Bermudez, who had been prominent in organising cleaners, had been called for that morning.

Those detained were denied union representation, but a campaign was quickly organised by SOAS campus unions and students, migrant worker activists and anti-deportation campaigners. SOAS management was held responsible for ISS “ambushing” their cleaners as punishment for winning union recognition and the London Living Wage.

Strikes off, cuts on at universities

The academics’ union UCU at the University of Sussex cancelled industrial action planned for late June after university bosses declared they were “hopeful” they could avoid any compulsory redundancies.

It soon emerged however that compulsory redundancies had been transformed into ‘voluntary’ ones and the number of job losses remained at over 100, with a similarly severe impact on many courses and workloads expected.

One student mocked the management statement: “We are pleased to announce that the 100 have jumped, and were not pushed. The knives to their backs were unrelated.” A lecturer also commented that “I, among many, have been made ‘voluntarily’ redundant, after being selected for compulsory redundancy. The University seems to have got rid of everyone it wanted by forcing us to accept a ‘voluntary’ settlement.”