Our Demands

Our principles:

  • Education should be free: funded through higher taxation on corporations and the rich.
  • Education is a social, public good: universities should not be run for private profit.
  • Universities should be democratically organised: directly controlled by staff and students.

We demand immediately from Edinburgh University:

  • No legal or academic repercussions for anyone involved.
  • Staff who take strike action on November 30th should have no pay deducted because of their action.
  • Staff who refuse to cross picket lines despite not being in a union which is on strike should face no recriminations.
  • That an all student email be sent out on the issue of the November 30th strikes outlining the position of management, UCU and EUSA.
  • Free tapwater in all university cafes, putting the welfare of staff and students before profit.
  • Withdrawal of the proposed 36k fees at Edinburgh University.
  • Full and open consultation between management, staff and students concerning fees.
  • No privatisation of education and no privately funded courses or research.
  • No cuts to courses or compulsory redundancies.
  • To guarantee no cuts to library, student support or learning resources.
  • A living wage for all workers at Scottish universities including those subcontracted.
  • Tutor should be paid for all the work they do; tutors need to be paid for enough time to provide proper feedback.
  • University senior management must take the average salary of university staff, or resign.
  • A public condemnation of the Westminster Government’s Higher Education White Paper.
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November 30th: The women fight back

Earlier this week, the Guardian asked the women of twitter what pissed them off most about the Con-Dem government. It was a testimony to women’s ingenuity that so many were able to fit so much into 140 characters. Among the many, many answers given were childcare cuts, attacks on employment rights, legal aid cuts, scrapping EMA, tuition fees, rape crisis funding cuts, attacks on benefits, sex education, female unemployment, cuts to mental health services and reductions in domestic violence support. This government is waging an all out war on women, while telling us to “Calm down, dears”.

November 30th will see the biggest strike this country has even known – more workers out on strike than during the Miners Strike, the Winter of Discontent or even the General Strike of 1926, and contrary to the popular stereotype of macho trade unionists in flatcaps with whippets, it is women who are leading the charge. The government wants to take away the “gold-plated” pensions of public sector workers, but this gold plating is as thin as gold leaf. Women in local government retire on £1,600 on average, hardly an army of Fred the Shreds.

According to the government the people who will be on strike on Wednesday are parasites who contribute nothing to the economy. There are the people who provide our local government services, our healthcare, our education. And they are overwhelmingly female.

This lack of value placed on public services, reflects the lack of value which is placed on women’s labour. Despite the Equal Pay act coming in in 1972, as recently as this September women were awarded compensation for years of discriminatory pay practices. The labour provided by women in the public sector in many cases are roles which women have always done – caring for elderly and disabled people, raising and educating children and nursing the ill were traditionally provided by female family members for free, and with the cuts there is a severe danger that women who provide services as a public good will again be expected to provide them for free in domestic servitude.

Benefit changes also impact disproportionately on women. In addition to the direct effect of the changes around working families tax credit and child benefit which are overwhelmingly claimed by women, cuts to disability benefits are likely to mean that women end up supporting disabled family members financially as well as practically.

The proposed changes to public sector pensions provision is an additional tax on public sector workers. While those who caused this crisis walk off with their golden handshakes huge pension pots, it is public sector workers who are expected to pick up the tab for their mismanagement.

On November 30th, the women will strike back – between two thirds and three quarters of the workers taking action will be female.

As Tyler Durden could have said

Look. The people you are coming after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, take out your trash, look after you when you are young;nurse you when you are sick and wipe your bums when you are old.

This was originally posted here.

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Why I support the strikes

Students at the time of the last UCU strike seemed somewhat confused as to what picket lines were, and what supporting a strike means. Here is my short attempt (it’s nearly 3am here in Appleton tower) to explain it.

On the N30 strikes, you should not cross the picket lines. Whoever you are, and whether you work in the building or not, to turn around, or better yet, to join the picket, are signs of solidarity. As students, many of us are as at the mercy of the government’s whims as workers are. Students have had a long tradition of standing with the working class in their fight for better conditions. I hope that fight will carry on until the things workers have built belong to the people who have made them.

All freedoms and concessions to workers were won by hard struggle on the workers’ part, not by the benevolence of politicians, and crossing picket lines is a statement that undermines that fight. We cannot expect politicians to fight for us, in an era where the Labour leader will say “these strikes are wrong” at the drop of a hat, and if we want control of our workplaces, universities, schools and hospitals we must not wait for Labour to break promises for the thousandth time. Individualism, spearheaded in part by the Thatcherism of the 1980s, and continued by the “we’re all middle-class now” rhetoric of Blair, has led to an erosion of class consciousness, that is, the notion that those who have to prostitute themselves to the labour market in order to survive have something in common with one another. Our communities have died, and so the ones with the biggest sticks, bought with the money stolen from the hard graft of the working people, have come to rule. The workers’ first recourse is the withdrawal of that labour.

What this means is that those who break picket lines to go into work are directly taking the bosses’ side in the dispute. You cannot “stay out of it”. By crossing, you pick a side. If the workers are to win their rights over what they produce, be that goods or knowledge, it is the collective action that is useful against the violent machinery of the capitalist state, while they hold all the cards of force and money. Class war is not something started by the workers, it is waged every day by the bosses and politicians, when they drive down wages, reduce holidays and cut funding to the social wage that is not only the workers’ right, but that is bought and paid for in money and time. It is time to fight our corner. Workers will be striking on the 30th and I will be standing with them.

I am frustrated at the moralizing over “disruption” that is bandied about in the press and by extension in the mouths of those who read it uncritically. Try living as a worker, or a benefits claimant, just for a month or so. All those things you would like to do, maybe spend time with your children, go down to the pub with your mates, or even work in a job that interests and stimulates you, you will find somehow mysteriously “disrupted” by the fact that you have very little money and very little time. For one day I ask you to stand with your fellow humans as they simply ask for reform in a system that exploits them, dehumanises them and robs them of their creations. For one day I ask that you think about how fortunate many of us students are to have the opportunities being at university grants us. For one day I ask that we act as a community. For one day I ask that we listen, rather than talk.

Perhaps a little “disruption” is worth it.

This was originally posted here.

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Schedule for 26/11/11

All welcome in the Free State of Apple Town, Appleton Tower, George Square, Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh matriculation cards are required for entry outside of usual daytime opening hours
Meetings will run on time!

1100-1130 Skipping (getting food)/
1100-1130 Communications (organising mailing list, Facebook, Twitter etc)
1200-1300 Safe Space policy write-up
1300-1400 Arts & Crafts (Propaganda)
1400-1600 Demands and aims
1630-1730 Events
2000-2130 Daily round-up, planning for the next day

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We’re not weirdos, honest

It’s a Friday night, I’m missing my friend’s boozy 20something birthday (it’s her third 21st…) because I’m sitting in Appleton Tower writing about strikes.

Life fail?

Maybe, but I hope not.

Occupations are about more than just hummus eating, a coffee intake three times more than the normal and trying to fashion a pillow out of someone else’s corduroy jacket (yes, I did this last night). Earlier I actually wrote my full name on a polystyrene cup so I could re-use it. Grim.

But I’m here because important shit is happening…
Next Wednesday our lecturers and tutors will be on strike because their pensions are being significantly cut – and they are being asked to work longer to earn less.

It’s not only them on strike though – the 30th of November will be the biggest mass strike in a generation. Around *three million* people and 30 unions!

This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often.

Workers and the public sector are under attack – we need to stand up and say how much we value our nurses, teachers, electricians, lecturers…

So we’re spreading the word.
Don’t go to class on the 30th – it weakens the strike if classes go ahead.
People will be outside lecture theatres and libraries to inform people about the strike and ask them not to go in university buildings.

Join us!

As much or as little participation as you would like – from re-posting this to sleeping on the floor and going round picket lines at stupid o-clock in the morning.

Ridiculous hair is not compulsory…
(this is me btw)

Kate x

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Report – Edinburgh Occupation 23rd-24th

Following the Edinburgh University Students’ Association organised ‘RUKidding’ March against fees a group of students attempted to occupy several university management buildings across campus. Unfortunately the university and the police were tipped off prior to the action, activists encountered police guarding several of the intended sites and were met with limited success. Several activists managed to gain entry into the university’s Playfair Library (a library students don’t usually get access to and mostly reserved for corporate events) but when more tried to join them it lead to a stand-off between university security, two secretaries, fifteen activists, one of the university’s vice-principles and a very bemused delegation from Edinburgh’s Indian Consulate. The stand-off ended when the activists received word that the main group was planning to hold a meeting to determine new targets and so choose to end the attempted occupation of Playfair amicably and rejoin the main group.

Following a brief meeting activists decided to re-occupy George Square Lecture Theatre (occupied over the weekend of fresher’s week earlier this year against 9k RUK fees), with the caveat that we would move out in time for lectures to commence at 9 am the next day. The purpose of this occupation was to evaluate our options and decide a plan of action. After a (very) long meeting it was decided that we would go back into occupation in Appleton Tower, after joining the union picket of Council Chambers against the privatisation of £1 billion of public services.

On all fronts we were relatively successful, the council voted to not outsource our city’s environmental services and we are now in Appleton Tower preparing to use it as an organising space in preparation for the N30 Strikes. Tomorrow, a very sleep deprived group of activists will begin the task of planning and outreach, but right now most seem quite happy raging at Question Time being played on a lecture theatre’s screen and eating some of the delicious rice and curry donated in solidarity.

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Security at the door

Changing shift is a tough processStudent X keeping the door open whilst a member of security takes their details.

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