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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 February 2022

King's student union refuses to back staff strike and NUS walkout

  (Click to enlarge)

Sanku Hasan Arun, King's College Socialist Students

I went to the annual general meeting of the university student union at King's College London (KCL) to raise two things. Firstly, to enquire about the election promises by student union officers to reduce rents. And secondly, to support strike action by the University and College Union (UCU) and National Union of Students (NUS) walkout.

On rent reduction, student union representatives said gains had been made, but refused to disclose any concrete details. They quoted confidentiality agreements with student accommodation, which will only be revealed next academic year. What is the possible rationale behind keeping this secret?

Students and university workers have common interests in going on strike. Uni workers face pension cuts, a fall in real wages, longer hours and casualised contracts.

Graduate teaching assistants are double exploited - underpaid for their work, while paying higher tuition fees and rent. These wretched conditions are affecting their ability to teach productively, and their mental health.

Similarly, students face higher tuition and accommodation fees. Many KCL students have bank loans to cover their costs.

These dire conditions are the consequence of increasing penetration of the capitalist free market into education. Commercialisation has reduced the student-teacher relationship to service provider and consumer.

In informal conversations, many students talk about the salability of their thesis in order to obtain fellowships and scholarships. The free market has arrested creativity in education.

But it's also created common suffering for the students and university staff. And brought us to student and staff strike action.

Mistakenly, KCL student union president Zahara Syed said that strike action by UCU and NUS "is not in the interest of the students, as they have suffered enough from Covid lockdown".

We don't want to strike. But it's the most effective tool we have to stop genuine suffering - underpayment of uni staff, job insecurity trough casualisation, gender and disability pay gap, exorbitant tuition and accommodation fees.

Scandalously, to discuss all these complex issues, I was only granted one minute to speak at the student union meeting. From the beginning of the academic year, only Socialist Students has been opposing the commodification of education, campaigning for scrapping tuition fees, and calling for democratic student control over determining accommodation rent.

Socialist Students annual conference is on Saturday 26 February in Birmingham to discuss how to rebuild the student movement, and what next after 2 March - visit socialiststudents.org.uk to sign up for updates about the conference

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In The Socialist 9 February 2022:


TUSC

No one in Westminster backs a pay rise for us...

Preparing for the council and Erdington elections


News

Cut our fuel bills - nationalise energy

'I'm dreading trying to live on a nurse's salary'

Cuts created NHS waiting list crisis

Oxfam 'Inequality Kills' report

Tories' 'levelling up' falls well short

Tories' 'partygate' crisis continues - kick them out


What we think

Catastrophic energy bill hike - a crisis made by capitalism


Workplace news

Force back Serco and Barts management!

Support the university strikes!

Tesco slashes jobs and customer service

Just Eat couriers drive chief exec out of town as strike spreads

Scunthorpe scaffs mark 100 days of strike action with protests

Perfect storm brewing in education

PCS consultative pay and conditions ballot - vote 'Yes'


Campaigns news

King's student union refuses to back staff strike and NUS walkout

A socialist voice in Stanwell North

Tamil Solidarity protest against repressive Sri Lankan regime

Socialist Party youth meeting: Mood is changing - socialist ideas growing

Swansea Trades Council pledges to fight local government cuts

The Socialist: 25 years of assisting workers' struggles and fighting for socialism


International news

Pro-market Socialist Party wins Portugal's election


Debate

Does the fight for Trans rights conflict with women's rights?


 

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Related links:

NUS:

triangleWorkers and students unite and fight

triangleFighting fees and marketisation after 2 March student walkout

triangleThis is students' chance to fight back - help build 2 March NUS walkout

triangleNUS walkout: Organise to fight for free education on 2 March

triangleNUS national student walkout and London demo

Union:

triangleThe Erdington byelection and the fight for a new mass workers' party

triangleJust Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

triangleTrade union support for standing anti-cuts election candidates

triangleUsdaw: 'Reinstate Max' week of action

Student:

triangle'I'm dreading trying to live on a nurse's salary'

triangleSouthampton uni ignores staff and students in exam farce

triangleSouthampton student vote for online exams must be accepted

Strike:

triangleRail workers strike in Sheffield

triangleBarts NHS workers to walk out again on 28 February

Students:

triangleCampaigning to make 2 March student walkout happen

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triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


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