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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 June 2012

Privateers not welcome at Sussex University

Shona McCulloch, Sussex University Unison (personal capacity)

On 10 May 2012 University of Sussex management announced plans to sell off huge swathes of support services on campus by August 2013, privatising over 10% of jobs.

Over 30 key support services would be affected, including security - even in the context of recent reports of sexual assaults on campus - estates, health and safety, and dining - which has recently seen a multi-million pound upgrade.

Getting organised

Unison, UCU and Unite, who represent the affected workers, organised an open meeting on 17 May which hundreds of staff and students attended. Representatives from the trades and student unions spoke before discussion was opened to the floor and the outrage of the crowd was heard in full.

A united campaign was formed involving workers and students - it was agreed that: a vote of no confidence would be held against vice-chancellor Michael Farthing and his executive group; demonstrations would be organised to oppose the two 'tendering' meetings which had been arranged for interested profiteers the following week; and, given the ruthless determination of Sussex management, that strike action would likely be necessary so plans to that effect must proceed with haste within the unions.

Socialist Party members in the campus unions are working to ensure that the necessary preparations are made as soon as possible, and with the full support of and under democratic control of the affected workers.

Demonstrations

The two demonstrations were hugely successful, with hundreds attending each and management forced to move the events to alternative venues. Speakers condemned the ideologically driven sell-off and Socialist Party members pointed out that 'support' staff are indeed the foundations of the university, without which it cannot function.

We have proposed that as a first step a 'committee of action' to resist privatisation and defend jobs and conditions should be elected.

This should have a majority of members from among directly affected staff. Members of the Unison, Unite and UCU branch committees should also be present and negotiators should be accountable to this committee and to mass meetings of the catering and estates staff.

It would make sense for the committee of action to co-opt students and other staff as observers to broaden the campaign, and joint demos and meetings should continue as well as linking the campaign to the wider union and anti-cuts movement in Brighton.

An indicative ballot should be held as soon as possible to establish that workers are prepared to resist privatisation by all means necessary including 'work to rule' and strikes, rather than trade jobs and public money for minor concessions for a minority.

All action needs to be decided democratically by the members after discussion with the wider campus community.

The full version of this article is available at: www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/14592/

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 6 June 2012:


Fight the cuts!

NHS cuts... Pension cuts... RESIST CUTS!

National Shops Stewards Network

Liverpool TUSC: Standing against Labour's cuts

Tory leader chauffeur driven while slashing services

Children still getting raw deal


Socialist Party news and analysis

Energy bill puts profits before the planet

Andy Coulson charged with lying

Youth unemployment sky-rocketing

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Syria: Is there a way to avoid a bloody civil war?

Ireland: Austerity Treaty


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fighting cuts and sexism at Newcastle's Slutwalk

Heathrow protest against warmonger Rajapaksa

We won't be a lost generation - Fight for jobs and education!

Campaigning for EMA and youth services

Disabled people's organisations condemn views of Tory minister IDS

A royal debate in Lincoln


Socialist Party workplace news

DVLA workers strike to defend services

Solid strikes show that Veolia privatisation is rubbish

Support Churchill cleaners on Tyne & Wear Metro

Leeds university Unison - Save our pensions!

Privateers not welcome at Sussex University

Workplace news in brief


Reviews and comments

Britain's hidden homeless

Why I joined the Socialist Party


 

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