The University of London spent £415,000 on security when students held a sit-in in support of striking outsourced cleaners (Socialist Worker, 26 April 2018).
It shows the university management’s heavy-handed approach—and its money-making neoliberal agenda.
In every instance the Vice Chancellor and Provost will put profits first, students and staff last.
I was involved with the student protests in solidarity with the UCU union’s pensions strike this year.
At one point when we were occupying the area around the Provost’s office, there was a delivery of five boxes of Moet champagne or at least something very expensive. Yet management told the striking university workers that there was no money to pay for decent pensions.
This approach extends to outsourcing workers. There is a general drive towards privatisation on campuses. We have had an increase of outsourcing of cleaners and security staff.
But other staff are facing the same model, with zero hours contracts for postgraduate lecturers.
If people stand against that agenda with protests, management is pretty hostile.
Security staff are deployed by the university system, but they are also being done over like everyone else. So they can be reluctant to be heavy-handed.
During the sit-in by the Provost’s office one of the security guys said, “I believe in what you’re doing, I’m just here to pick up my overtime pay.”
The strike showed how students and staff can come together in moments of struggle.
We came together on the picket lines and marches. There was a two-way solidarity.
There needs to be more alliances between societies on campuses, everyday campaigns between students and staff and an escalation of struggle again.
Mataio Austin Dean, University of London
Privatisation led to Northern Rail chaos
After years of underfunding, job cuts and ever-increasing ticket prices the recent chaos with Northern Rail only looks to escalate in the coming weeks.
A recent new timetable has seen trains cancelled or delayed.
Many commuters have been left enraged and out of pocket after arranging alternative transport.
Some are unable to arrive at work on time due to overcrowding or, in the case of a few of my colleagues, not at all due to cancellations.
Workers in the RMT union are striking in their long running battle to keep train guards.
Northern Rail wants to operate driver only trains. The RMT says this “will shred safety culture in the same way they have shredded the timetables”.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling continues to pass the blame and is promising another inquiry. But he says that a solution to the new timetable will take months.
Surely this shows that the Tories’ experiment into privatisation has failed. It can only derail the vision of the “Northern Powerhouse” that George Osborne promised in 2014.
Ana Pope, Manchester
Socialist politics is key to shaping the struggle
Simon Basketter’s ‘Staring reality in the face’ article (Socialist Worker, 30 May) is a very perceptive summary of the British situation.
What is its global context? The model for the modern nation state, forged during early European capitalism, seems to be cracking.
State capitalist USSR has broken up. Borders are being questioned from Ireland, Scotland, Catalonia, Ukraine and Kurdistan.
Even in the West, democracy is increasingly discredited. At some point class struggle cannot fail to kick off, albeit haltingly.
So socialists have a vital part to play in bringing coherence, direction and effectiveness to the labour movement.
The desperate need for socialist politics can be a source of optimism.
What we do and how we do it has never been more important.
Dermot Smyth, Chesterfield
Stop hate on the streets
A group of us from Scarborough went to the Stand Up To Racism rally in Manchester last Saturday.
That the people of Manchester have to put up with hateful people trying to march on their streets is disgusting.
A lot of people outside the rally did not know what was taking place and were asking what was going on.
A hard-hitting anti-racist leaflet to hand out to people walking past would be useful.
The far right did not get what they wanted—to march through the city centre.
Let’s do the same when other streets are under attack and not let hate march through the cities.
Kathy Clarke, Scarborough
PCS is not to blame
I share Pain Warrior’s disgust and anger at the cruel sanctioning regime in place at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (Letters, 30 May).
No doubt a small minority of workers, including DWP staff, go along with some of this targeting of claimants.
However, I‘m sure the vast majority of PCS union members would happily see an end to sanctioning and stigmatisation.
If PCS members win their pay dispute they are more likely to be in a position to challenge this sanctioning regime.
Good riddance to Stringfellow
Peter Stringfellow’s death was marked by an outpouring of drivel.
Commentators decided that being dead meant he should be defended as simply a “loveable rogue”.
Stringfellow was a sexist lowlife who made his millions out of the exploitation of women’s bodies.
Good riddance to him—and let’s hope he doesn’t rest in peace.
Angela Wrenford, Sheffield
Thanks for SW, from jail
I am to be released from prison this week on tag. I have been allowed to read your paper since I moved to Sudbury open prison in April.
Thank you for your paper. Hopefully I can recover in the summer from the ordeal I have been through. I should never have been here.
Chris Fernandez, HMP Sudbury
[Chris was an election agent for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and was jailed earlier this year].
Justice over Grenfell fire
What’s worse, 12 months on and no arrests or people voting the Tory councillors back in? (Damning revelations in Grenfell inquiry, Socialist Worker online, 6 June).
Michael Gittins, On Facebook
Blame greedy capitalism from which all the parties have made money off the backs of the poor.
The Tories will get theirs. This one won’t be as easy as Hillsborough to duck responsibility.
BTFL1, On Twitter
Norfolk’s MP is a let down
North west Norfolk Tory MP Henry Bellingham said he’d help improve infrastructure.
Roll on a year and train services are delayed or cancelled. The local hospital has higher car parking charges.Shops are shutting. The people of north west Norfolk deserve better.
Jo Rust, Norfolk