Sunday, 20 March 2011

Support the Staff Strike

Birmingham University UCU are fighting at national level against a real terms 4.6% pay cut to staff and for job security against unesscesary cuts to our education that will affect us all. UCU are also fighting against regressive changes to the University Superannuation Scheme (USS), which potentially hits female members harder and damages member’s benefits.

There are real alternatives in the universities budget and of course on national level. At the University of Birmingham by 2015 over half of the money the university is planning to make up in £10 million pounds worth of cuts to our courses will have been lost in increases in executive pay for just 97 top paid staff.

Executive pay at the University of Birmingham is spiralling out of control. In the academic year 1999/2000 the VC earned £169,000, and there were 28 staff earning more than £100,000 p/a with a combined pay of £3.3 million. 10 years later the VC's pay equaled £392,000, and there were 97 staff earning more than £100,000 p/a with a combined pay of £14.7 million, unlike average staff pay, far above inflation and the average growth of the university.

It is in our best interest as students' for to support UCU in fighting against job losses as lecturers made forcibly redundant by the university will result in less teaching, support and contact hours for students.

So want to do something to support staff?

Why not e-mail the university staff, let ‘em know what you think ask them to stop taking such a hardline stance and give staff a fair deal.

Professor D Eastwood The Vice-Chancellor and Principal
Professor M C Sheppard The Vice-Principal

Tell your friends, not to go lectures, encourage your friends to walk out of classes, write to your departmeant head and lecturers saying you won’t be attending in solidarity with staff on strike.

Write to your lecturers let them know you really don’t mind missing a lesson on Tuesday, if it means that they won’t lose their jobs or have their pensions raided

Bring food and drink to picketing lecturers on Tuesday and thursday.

there may well be more organised efforts to support staff I'm sure you know who to contact if you want to take part

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Unesscessary costs, security & restrictions in the Aston Webb feb 24h

It has come to our attention that the University has preemptively placed restrictions on staff and student activity in the Aston Webb building in response to the National Coalition Against Fees and Cuts Day of Action.  

We can only presume that they have done so to prevent any direct action by Stop Fees and Cuts.  In so doing they have created more disruption to students and staff than any action by us would have done and incurred unnecessary costs to themselves.  

We had not planned any actions for the day and informed the university that we were going to do nothing in attempt to save them money.

nevertheless the University now will have to pay security costs and will have inconvenienced many of its members.  

We hope the University administration , after all the trouble will reconsider the unnecessary cuts they are making to the detriment of the education and livelihoods of students and employees at Birmingham.  

We are, however, far from happy at the disruption their actions will cause to the educations of students whose futures are our primary motivation for all our actions.

 Other universities manage to handle protests and occupations by students without causing such disruption.  Over the past months the University has become very familiar with our methods and must surely realise that we have never acted to harm people or property and carry out direct actions with the view to causing minimal disruption to the normal activities of the University.  We hope that people will note that the common feature of any inconvenience caused by political protests on campus, real or imagined, is not the actions of protestors, but the grossly heavy-handed reactions of the administration.  This latest example comes after the University sent in security to violently break up a peaceful occupation and, subsequently, starting disciplinary proceedings (later abandoned) against any politically active students in the vicinity; expended large amounts of its own money on policing and surveillance of a protest consisting of a dozen or so students, many with disabilities and, perhaps most ridiculously, preemptively locking down the site of the above mentioned occupation to prevent reprisals on the day of disciplinary interviews, predicated on the fire hazard caused by blocking the same room.

We are at a loss to explain why the University management acts to its own detriment in these ways.  The only possible explanation is that they fear the increased attention these protests draw to their running of the University .  As well they might. The Vice Chancellor is the most well paid in the country, receiving £392, 000 last year, an increase of 11% on the year before.  97 staff now earn more than £100,000 a year and increase from 28 in 2000, this year alone
management pay increases have cost £1.3 million pounds to students.  At the same time support staff earning little more than minimum wage are receiving real term pay cuts.  Relations between academic staff and management have deteriorated to the extent that they are considering strike action.  Senior management has responded by, cynically, feigning concern for the effect this will have on students’ education, whilst cutting funding of departments with some even facing closure.  All this has happened despite the University running a surplus.  Not to mention that Vice Chancellor David Eastwood sat on the Browne Review, which recommended unlimited tuition fees, and has since been cheerleading these measures in the media.

We will continue to hold the management of the University to account in spite of their aggressive reaction and invite others to join us.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

students shoulder to shoulder with staff

 Sign the petition in support of UoB staff here

Yesterday many University of Birmingham academic staff received an email concerning the UCU strike ballot. Sent by the university managers and signed by the vice chancellor David Eastwood and other members of the executive, it urged them to vote against UCU to minimise the "effects on students".

We stand shoulder to shoulder with staff and UCU and recognise that the real disruption to our education is being done by the very damaging cuts, in the form of over 200 job losses, being pushed by the vice chancellor David Eastwood.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will shortly be balloted on taking industrial action. In support of the UCU's fight against a 4.6% real terms pay cut and against the regressive changes to the staff pension scheme.

This year in our fight against fees UoB UCU have come out on every single demo and protest supporting students and have been lobbying hard against a fee increase.

In 2006 UCU took industrial action, and received strong support from the student body, if not always from the Guild of Students. In 2006 the industrial action took the form of a boycott of marking and assessment, which delayed some results for students, however it did allow education to continue minimising the effect upon students.

The University managers are arguing that pay increases would increase the strain on the Universities finances. Yet this seems to be a rather hypocritical stance, considering that the Vice Chancellor has just accepted an 11% pay rise to £392,000, despite his present salary of £352,000 already being 13 times the UK average. This year alone the executive pay roll was raised from £13.3 million pounds to £14.7 million; an average increase of 10.5% per manager.

To put this in perspective, in the academic year 1999/2000 the VC earned £169,000, and there were 28 staff earning more than £100,000 p/a with a combined pay of £3.3 million. 10 years later VC pay equaled £392,000, and there were 97 staff earning more than £100,000 p/a with a combined pay of £14.7, unlike average staff pay, far above inflation and the average growth of the university.

We can’t accept arguments for the necessity of pay cuts, when the University managers won’t apply this rule to themselves, and we fully support UCU in the fight for fair pay.
The proposed reforms to pensions are highly regressive and we back UCU’s analysis that they are potentially discriminatory, with women taking a higher burden of the negative effects of the changes.

The strength of staff opposition, with 96% of those USS members who voted in the UCU referendum rejecting these proposals, should alone be enough to make the University rethink the proposals. The University’s arguments are flawed. They point out the need to raise money in the short term, but the pension proposals will save very little in the short to medium term, while damaging the position of members. Further, there is no evidence that the pension scheme needs to be so drastically cut as it is already a stable and sustainable scheme. The proposals to reform the pension scheme are simply designed to reduce employers' contributions and further increase revenue for the University at the expense of staff members. As students we stand 100% with staff members in their fight against these changes.

We recognise that a sound university system requires both job security and the protection of salaries and pensions against inflation. An under-funded and insecure workforce is not in the interests of staff or students as it will clearly further undermine the 'student experience'. In advance of the predictable (and short-sighted) claims by University managers, that striking University employees are damaging student prospects, we extend our solidarity to University employees in their attempt to reject the imposition of ever greater and widening inequality within the University system.

We reject, in advance, all predictable attempts by University managers to divide students from staff in our collective fight against the imposition of cuts and fees across higher education.

Monday, 21 February 2011

University of Birmingham drops all cases against students, after widespread criticism.

Special thanks to everyone who supported us

The University of Birmingham has backed down from an increasingly embarrassing attempt to discipline 15 students.

The Vice Chancellor David Eastwood received criticism from religious leaders, MP’s, unions and prominent academics including Professor Noam Chomsky and John McDonnell MP.

The University’s case was weakened by their attempt to press charges against two students who were not in any way involved in the occupation. One student was implicated because he was seen outside the building that he works in 'talking to a student', but that student was not part of the occupation. He was not told why this highly circumstantial (if not irrelevant) information was sufficient basis to accuse him of physically and racially assaulting other members of the University of Birmingham.

However, the only reason that he might have been accused in the first place is because in emails on university lists he had publically supported  staff unions at the University in recent pay disputes, and is a student member of two unions on campus. This raises extremely grave concerns about the University’s use of spurious evidence to make accusations against individuals without any substantial reasons, bringing into doubt the motivations of the University and its witnesses in the accusations that it has made.

The proceedings have caused a significant amount of distress for the students undergoing disciplinary action. During the proceedings the University refused to follow its own procedures that state that students should be informed immediately after their hearing whether or not there is sufficient evidence for disciplinary action. Instead, in each case the University chose to prolong the proceedings, creating an extremely distressing and stressful situation for students who had to wait weeks to find out if they could continue with their studies.

Students wanting to defend those charged by coming forward as witnesses and giving their versions of events to the University were then summoned for discipline themselves. These students would appear to have implicated themselves in the occupation solely by acting as witnesses. This clearly has an extremely intimidating effect upon any further potential witnesses who may want to come forward in defence of the students.

Given the weakness of the case and the arbitrary and intimidating approach taken, we believe that the process was simply an attempt to discourage student dissent and attack freedom of speech and association on campus.

Students at the University of Birmingham are not discouraged and are now building a new campaign to support staff members and UCU, fighting for fair pay, protecting pensions and fair wages.  University managers have recently given themselves a 10.5-11% pay rise, while offering staff a 0.4% pay increase, which with inflation at 5% is cut for low earners and rise for staff already earning between £100,000 and £400,000 per annum.

Sat 19th Feb - Local stalls around Birmingham - Birmingham Against the Cuts

UKUncut Bail in Action - 11am, Snow Hill Train Station

Save Birmingham Youth Services - 3pm, Waterstones -

Wed 23rd - Education Activist Network half term demo -

Thurs 24th - DayX4 - BCU have a demo on campus - 12:30pm – BCU protest against cuts of 78% at the uni will take place at Kenrick library at city north campus.

There is also a demonstration in London at the UK Universities conference

Saturday 26th Feb - Birmingham Against the Cuts & Unison demo against council cuts -

There's also plots being hatched to run a UKUncut action in solidarity with the demonstration, and the first USUncut actions happening on the same day

Tuesday 1st March - Unison demo outside the council house from 2pm, whilst the budget gets voted on

and Planning meeting for SFCB on Tuesday 22nd, 5pm, guild of students

Monday, 7 February 2011

Solidarity, The Petition and the Cases

The university of birmingham has said it could well be weeks even months before the students on displinary hear back about their future at the university birmingham . Stop Fees and Cuts In Birmingham reckons it is a breach of the universities duty of care to its students leaving the cases dangling over them rather than dealing with the cases swiftly by chucking the disciplinary cases out with the rubish that they are.
we are now 37 Signatures off 1500, our disciplinary cases are still ongoing so signatures are still very much appreciated
Thanks to all the students above who took in part in the video petition standing together with their peers. 
We will post here regarding any developmeants in our ongoing case.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The fight back continues

We have faced an unprecedented crackdown after our entirely peaceful sit in
Cases are still ongoing but, it is increasing apparent with support being garnered MP’s Lecturers, Trade Unions and the brilliant student body at Birmingham University, that once again a poorly thought through attitude of “no compromise” has put The University of Birmingham’s reputation at risk and its mangers out on a limb.

 A special thanks to all the students who stood up to be counted “I am Spartacus” style when they saw their fellow students being victimized, watch this video to see their efforts

and of course all the people including MP's, Lecutures and, NUS officers, Student Union officers, UCU, TUC, Unison who supported us by signing our petition

Students are not deterred by bullying and intimidation by the University of Birmingham mangers. Cracks are already starting to show in the universities management and insiders have privately communicated to us the serious regrets of the universities mangers in their choices.

The campaign against cuts and fees is ongoing, join us!

This Monday 7th of feb - come along in the evening for a Birmingham against the Cuts Planning meeting. Location: Unison Offices, 19th Floor, McClaren Tower, Priory Queensway, Birmingham. 6pm - 9pm.

This Friday 11th, Come along to stop fees and cuts in Birmingham (SFCB) next public meeting, meet 5pm at guild of students reception, for planning of the continued campaign against massive pay bonuses for mangers (the VC got 11%) while students and staff get cuts, fees and pay decreases.

On the 16th come along to - Discourses of Dissent: Social Theory and Political Resistance. Location: Birmingham Midland Institute, Birmingham. 2pm - 6pm.

On the 17th - Public Meeting of Birmingham Against the cuts. Location: Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham. 7.30pm.

24th of February is DAY X 4! Watch this space for more information on the national walk out.

An excellent event coming up in the near future on 05/03/2011 Is the Re-Imagining the Public University: A Day of Workshops. Location: Aston University.

Take some action right now to support the anti fees fight

Sign a friend up to the phone tree get them to Text “No fees” To 07988056867 and invite your friends on FB to Stop fees and cuts in Birmingham FB group

Some thoughts the guild of students about its most recent actions/ inactions.

You still haven’t invested time in improving your communications, you need to get back on the national stage, your twitter account still inactive, your FB group we won’t be cut out is silent, and you still have not set up a phone tree or invested in FB page.

you are still not taking part in the regional campaign "Birmingham Against The Cuts" which is a group formed by Trade Unions, Service Groups, User Groups and Campaign Groups in Birmingham to oppose the cuts being made by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalitions both nationally and locally. Participation costs nothing, you have already declared you intent on taking part in the march 26th demo in london.. so if your onboard nationally why not locally? building local alliances will help us more in terms of protecting students at UoBs interests.

Your lack of support for the students facing disciplinary was shocking; no statement was put out, and you refused to even put a quote into a press release. The support that came from all other groups at the University of Birmingham puts you to shame. Your Students need political representation aswell as ARC support.

Despite requests, you didn’t support the EMA demo in town on the 11th of January in any meaningful sense. Instead you opted out of joining students from sixth forms, BCU and Aston. It is important we build up a broad movement involving student from sixth forms, this is being done but without your involvement, as the largest student organization in birmingham the guild should play a key role rather than a fringe one.

Your lack of action on the cuts education department Staff groups are making a brilliant effort to build a public narrative about these highly damaging and unfair cuts. Despite requests at the education forum for you to make a statement you have remained silent. Stopping cuts like this requires a highly informed and aware student body; the university relies on quiet students for their acquiescence to these cuts. By not taking any action to inform students you are failing in one of your primary roles.