Warwick UCU supports striking French workers

As French public sector workers continue their strike action against damaging pension reforms, Warwick UCU sends a special message of support and solidarity to all members of Éducation SUD, the education workers’ union. In the midst of UCU’s own campaign against degradation of pensions, pay and working conditions, we salute our colleagues who have joined the struggle of millions of workers in France against the government’s drive to replace security with precarity among those who do essential work. Our solidarity across national borders is a recognized strength of all working people. Your fight against privatisation and austerity is inspiring to us; your victory will be ours as well.

 

Statement of Solidarity With Those Protesting Against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019

Warwick UCU stands in solidarity with students, academics, and other citizens fighting to defend democratic rights in India by protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. We note that the Act, which professes to provide preferential treatment to religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan in the process of acquiring Indian citizenship, explicitly excludes Muslims from its purview. As many have pointed out, this exclusion, which is based on religious identity, is both immoral and unconstitutional. We condemn the use of violent police force in suppressing the aforementioned protests over the past week, which have involved the firing of tear gas bullets and water cannons, as well as alleged acts of sexual harassment, and the alleged use of firearms and pellets. Further, we condemn the undemocratic measures taken by the Indian government in response to the protests, including a widespread internet shutdown and curfew orders. 

We also note the horrifying violence inflicted by the state governments of Uttar Pradesh and other states where the police force is controlled by the ruling party. A large number of citizens, most of them Muslim, have been killed in UP, and several others elsewhere. There is a marked contrast between the treatment of protestors by police in BJP and non-BJP states: it can only be concluded from this that the ruling party has openly sanctioned violence against those who disagree with them, and in particular against Muslims. 

We have however been deeply moved by the massive and peaceful democratic protests that have taken place in many parts of the country. The citizens participating in these protests stand for democracy and constitutional principles, and the government whose policies they are opposing clearly stand for the opposite. The Modi government’s crackdown upon the protests is yet another chapter in its shameful abuse of human rights across the country. We wish to make it clear to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the ruling party that the world is watching them as they try to erode the world’s largest democracy.

We resolve to support all peaceful protests against the Act, and we affirm the right of students, academics, and all citizens to participate in such protests, in India and across the world. 

PS For more information, we recommend this “cheatsheet” which debunks state propaganda on the protests. 

Applying to our Local Warwick UCU Solidarity Fund

We strongly encourage you to apply for solidarity support so that your commitment to Industrial Action is sustainable. Warwick UCU pledge to treat Solidarity Fund applications by precariously and casually employed tutors/workers/staff, as well as those earning below £30k per annum, as a matter of priority.

For the full guidance on the fund, please see here.

To make an application to the fund, please follow this link. This form will gather non-anonymous data to be used by Warwick UCU to manage our local solidarity funds. We have committed to ensure all those who are most vulnerable will be supported, and then we will allocate funds on a sliding basis of need. You will need to include evidence of your expected earnings in the period for which you have withdrawn your labour. (Please check the guidance).

If you have not been on strike and/or are able to contribute to the local Solidarity Fund please donate here.

Day 7: Pink Beanies and Resisting the Hostile Environment

It was cold; the picket started early; but we didn’t mind because the infamous pink beanies have finally arrived. We think you’ll agree that we look very comradely and cute!!

After energetic pickets at Gibbet Hill, Lynchgate, Westwood, and Gate House (phew!), we were welcomed back to the bus loop by this creative, hilarious, and very dispiriting sign. Indeed.

The theme of today was “Resistance to Trump and Johnson – Defend Migrants and End the Hostile Environment” and we were lucky enough to have three teach-outs on the topic. First, Was Hannah Jones’ interactive picket line teach out on the Hostile Environment, how it works, and how we can resist it. You can check out her #DigitalPicketLine recap here.

We were also treated to a post-picket teach in led by Aditya Sarkar on the rise of the far right globally and a talk by Ademola Anjorin on the education system and other racist legacies of British colonialism. In addition to spelling out the connections between the marketisation of higher education and the hostile environment, all of these talks suggested concrete ways that students and staff can work together to resist these regimes and create decolonised universities and societies. Jonathan Skinner’s teach out on “print activism” discussed some of the ways that art can play role in this process.

Tomorrow is our last day of strike action this year so let’s make it loud! Bring your voices, instruments, and noise-makers.

 

Day 4: Gorgeous Weather on the Picket Line

What a beautiful day on the picket line! After three days of rain, we had a wonderful day of . . . well, cloud and a bit of drizzle, but it felt like May sunshine.

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We had vibrant pickets at Westwood, Lynchgate, Gibbet Hill, and Gatehouse before returning back to the bus loop for some dancing, singing and chanting.

We were also lucky enough to have the National Educator’s Union (NEU) join us on the picket line and Emma Mort, the Warwickshire District Secretary gave a speech, highlighting the absurdity of universities putting money into capital projects instead of education. Warwick Occupy also came for a visit and gave a moving speech that drew links between our struggles and the anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles they are currently waging.

#Unistories is growing, physically expanding from the busloop to the Occulus and Library, and also growing online. Please come by and write your story, and if you can’t, consider tweeting your experience of the marketised university and why you are striking or supporting the strike.

Following the picket line, were two fabulous teach outs: a discussion on climate change and/as neocolonialism and a debate on Future of the Digital Economy.

Finally, we heard a rumour that the fabled UCU pink beanies might be making an appearance on the picket line tomorrow, but shhhh….don’t tell anyone.

Day 3: #Unistory, Kashmir, and lots more rain

What a day! 

The rain may not have let up, but neither did we, as the picket line continued to grow with faces new and old. Today’s picket line was adopted by PAIS and Modern Languages, which both had great showings of people, camaraderie and food.

We had an important teachout on why the situation in Kashmir is an issue for us in the UK.

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We also launched #unistory, an amazing arts project developed by artist, activist and student Julie Saumagne, where staff and students write their stories and experiences of the marketised, corporatised university, and explain why they are striking or support the strike. Add your own story when you come down to the picket line and check out our twitter feed to watch as the project unfolds. 

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Finally, we said good-bye to our beloved president, Duncan, who is off to start a new job next week. He will be sorely missed.

See you all on the picket line bright and early tomorrow morning!

Day 2: Picketers Rising (Early)

Day Two kicked off early – with many of our members getting up at 5:30 to make it to the picketline for a 7:30 start! The weather was….erm…..better?! And our spirits were high.

We had lively pickets at Lynchgate, Westwood, Gibbet Hill, and the Gatehouse. Members report fabulous conversations at each entrance with supportive staff and students, all of whom were eager to learn more about why we’re on strike and what they can do to help.

 

The day ended with a rally focusing on casualisation, including a brilliant speech by Warwick Anti-Casualisation’s Katja Laug before staff and students broke out for a teach out, “Persuasive Conversations on the Picket Line,” lead by Zarah Sultana and an amazing initiative “Rave, Resist, Register” which saw local Warwick DJs pair up with staff and students to get the vote out!

Reminder that tomorrow we meet at the bus loop at 10AM. Details below:

Wednesday 27 November (USS / pensions)
Meet at the Bus Loop 10am-2pm
(Adopted by PAIS and French/Hispanic Studies)

12-1pm The Relevance of Kashmir for UK Politics

1-1:30pm General Strike of 1926 (Warwick Marxist Society)

 

 

Day 1: Torrential Rain and a Torrent of Support

What an inspiring start to 8 days of strike action. The weather was torrential but so were our spirits!

The opening day of the national UCU strike saw hundreds of staff, students and local supporters turn out in the rain to demand reforms to unsustainable practices in the university sector. The day started with a morning coffee session with 20+ members of our professional services staff (this isn’t just a lecturer’s strike after all!) who then marched together down to the main picket line.

Over the course of the day, over 300 people came through as did numerous  handsome 

 

There was a rally with speakers from local UCU, Warwick Anticasualisation, the Student’s Union, local Parliamentary Candidates Zarah Sultana and Taiwo Owatemi, and Warwick Occupy. All speakers made connections between staff and student concerns in the sector, and some linked the degradation of Higher Education to the pervasive wider impacts of funding cuts and austerity policies across UK societies.

 

It was deeply encouraging to see so much support on this first day, with the action comparing favourably to the first day of the pickets in 2018. The pickets were followed by a full afternoon of teach-out events organised by staff and students, including workshops on the Ecology of the Campus and on Digital Labour.

Statement of Solidarity with Warwick Occupy

 
Warwick UCU is writing to express our solidarity with students currently occupying the SU building, which follows a protest on Tuesday regarding the Jewish Israeli Society’s hosting a speaker from the IDF. We share their concern with the issues that they have brought to the attention of the campus. 
 
We have seen rising incidents of racism and islamophobia in our country and in our institutions. For years, staff and students at University of Warwick have engaged in anti-racist organising together. We have fought against the PREVENT agenda because it is discriminatory and encourages disproportionate surveillance of Muslim and BME students. We’ve fought side by side to ensure that the survivors of the racist, anti-Semitic, and sexist group chat received the justice they deserved. We’ve fought to prevent deeply racist and reactionary speakers from coming onto our campus. And now students have voted to support staff as we strike to end the racial pay gap at Warwick and nationally. 
 
But this racist and islamophobic culture is pernicious and it has permeated our society, our University, and the institutions therein.
 
This occupation is important as are occupiers’ demands that we as a University community finally begin to take serious, coordinated, and concerted action to tackle these problems.
 
We call on our members to stay up to date with the demands of the occupiers: https://twitter.com/WarwickOccupy and, if able, to consider supporting the occupiers. https://justgiving.com/crowdfunding/warwick-occupy
 
We ask that the SU ensure the rights of the occupiers and their safety.
 
And we call on the University to launch an official and widespread investigation into racism on campus, and particularly the ways that it is embedded in processes ranging from pay gaps to the external speaker policy.

Picket Line Plans, Teach Outs, and Solidarity Events

Picket in the Morning, Canvas in the Evening!*

All events on the picket line unless otherwise marked

Monday 25 Nov (Whose university? Whose education? Marketisation + Tuition Fees…AND Second Last Day to Register to Vote)
Meet at the Bus Loop 10am-2pm
(Adopted by Sociology and Professional Service Staff)

9am-9:45am Professional Service’s pre-picket Breakfast & Informal Meeting at the Varsity.

11am Opening Rally 

11:30am Icebreaker!

12pm #Unistory on the picket line

1pm Ecologies of Warwick Campus (Nick Lawrence)

2pm-4pm Cyberstrike! Workplace and Resistance in the Digital Age (Craig Gent, in The Graduate, SU) 

2pm Delegation to Leamington FEs to register voters

4:30 Warwick Labour Students meet at the bus loop to go canvassing

 

Tuesday 26 November (Casualisation….AND Last Day to Register to Vote)
Meet at busloop at 8am to go picketing / return to bus loop at 10
(Adopted by English)

10am Persuasive Conversations on the Picket Line (Zarah Sultana, Parliamentary Candidate for Coventry South)

11am Rave / Resist /Register (Student-Staff Solidarity Soundsystem)

4:30 Warwick Labour Students meet at the bus loop to go canvassing

Wednesday 27 November (USS / pensions)
Meet at the Bus Loop 10am-2pm
(Adopted by PAIS and French/Hispanic Studies)

12-1pm The Relevance of Kashmir for UK Politics

1-1:30pm General Strike of 1926 (Warwick Marxist Society)

4:30pm Warwick Labour Students meet at the bus loop to go canvassing

 

Thursday 28 November (Workload)
Meet at busloop at 8am to go picketing / return to bus loop at 10

 

11am-12pm: Discussion Climate Change, Neocolonialism, and Resistance (Jack Bara, The Graduate)

12pm-1pm: Debate on the Future of the Digital Economy (with CIM students, in the Graduate, SU)

1pm-2pm Data Colonialism & the New Extractivism (Naomi Waltham Smith, Dirty Duck)

4:30pm Warwick Labour Students meet at the bus loop to go canvassing

 

Friday 29 November (#Climate Strike – March + Rally)
Meet at the Bus Loop 10am-2pm
(Adopted by Law, English, and History)

11am  Histories of Activism on the picket line (History department, Warwick) 

12pm Ecopoetics on the picket line 

4:30pm Warwick Labour Students meet at the bus loop to go canvassing

Speakers: Saima Razzaq (Birmingham Pride); Shahnaz Akhter (PAIS, Warwick)
Moderator: Somak Biswas (History, Warwick)
Co-organised by Queer History Warwick, Warwick Pride and SU to mark the Islamophobia Awareness Week.

 

Monday 2 December (Pay + pay gaps)
Meet at the Bus Loop 10am-1:30pm
(Adopted by Professional Service Staff and Philosophy)

The Pay Gap Game (Ninna Markova)

Tuesday 3 December (Resistance to Trump and Johnson – defend migrants/end hostile environment)
Meet at busloop at 8am to go picketing / return to bus loop at 10 

10am “Hostile Environment: Functionings of and Resistance to Bureaucracy” (Hannah Jones)

11pm-12pm Discussion Session: Understanding and Confronting the Far Right (Laura Schwartz and Aditya Sarkar, in The Graduate, SU)

12pm Print Activism Workshop (Jonathan Skinner, The Graduate, SU)

1pm-2pm “The British Education System is Racist” (Ademola Anjorin, The Graduate, SU)

4:30pm Warwick Labour Students meet at the bus loop to go canvassing

 

 Wednesday 4 December (Disability Equality #includeus)
Meet at the Bus Loop 10am-1:30pm
(Adopted by Sociology and PAIS)

10:30 The Case for Active Transport (Andy Marsh and Peter Brommer)

11am-12pm “Social Strike Activity” on the Picket line (Carrie Benjamin)

12pm-1pm “Precarity in the neoliberal university” (Teodora Todorova and the Sociology Society)

4:30pm Warwick Labour Students meet at the bus loop to go canvassing

*The events listed here that do not take place on the picketline are not official UCU events; they are organised independently by staff and students who are supportive of the strike and respecting our picket line.