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2 June 2010

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UCU young members' conference

The University and College Union's first Young Members' Conference was held on 15 May. Around 30 delegates attended, from both further and higher education institutions and those practising in industrial settings.

James Naish

The event provided a good opportunity for delegates to experience - possibly for the first time - the operation of the union at a national level, as well as providing a chance to network with other young activists.

But the conference lacked clear objectives, and the range of broad discussions failed to deliver on substantial plans of action. Socialist Party members proposed concrete steps to tackle the challenges facing further and higher education - including a national demonstration on the day of the emergency budget and efforts to build alliances with the student community and the broader trade union movement.

An informal network of young activists was established with responsibility for co-ordinating the recruitment of young members, as well as for pushing for a democratic discussion over the structure of a young members' committee.

The UCU faces a number of challenges in recruiting young workers. They are vulnerable because they're usually at the start of their careers and therefore are more likely to be pressurised by their bosses, compared to their senior colleagues. Furthermore, young workers, especially if they're on casualised contracts, may fear victimisation if they either join or get active with the union.

Therefore, a national Young Members' Committee is essential to ensure that the issues young workers in academia and education face are addressed, and to build the next generation of union activists.

Striking at UAL

On 27 May UAL (University of the Arts London) took strike action across six colleges and up to 100 lecturers and students rallied outside Central St Martin's Art College in protest at job cuts. This is the fifteenth UCU branch in London to take strike action since March.

68% of the UCU members at UAL voted in favour of strike action to save the jobs threatened through course closures and 'restructuring'. At the rally staff were joined by students and campaigners against the closure of the college's nursery.

Colleges and universities across the country are facing massive cuts. With the announcement of further cuts of 200 million from university spending and 340 million in cuts in further education it is clear that national action uniting workers and students around an anti-cuts programme is needed to fight these attacks.

Suzanne Beishon

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Related links:

UCU:

triangleUniversity teaching moves online in England

triangleFurther education workers win pay rise in Wales

triangle

Solidarity with Brighton UCU strike - we won't pay for Covid crisis

triangleStrike action ballot at UEL over job cuts

triangleWorkplace news in brief

Education:

triangleJohnson's 'road map' for schools: Act together to protect safety

triangleStrike back for free education

triangleSouthern new members meeting - a vivid illustration of the appetite for socialist ideas

triangleConference - Sunday 28 February

Young workers:

triangleFight for your future at the online rally

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Covid - A young workers' charter

triangleWest London Socialist Party: Why young workers need trade unions

Strike:

triangleHow militant trade unionism defeated the 1971 Industrial Relations Act

triangleGMB members continue fight against 'fire and rehire' in British Gas

College:

triangleEast London teachers strike in support of victimised union rep

Article dated 2 June 2010

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Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers.  They are fighting against

Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers. They are fighting against 'fire and rehire' - designed to worsen terms and conditions. Photo by Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

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