Tag Archive: november


Guildford Against Fees And Cuts

All over Guildford, Surrey, and nationwide, people are realising the full impact of the ConDem Coalition’s cuts agenda and the lasting impact cuts will have on our communities.

We have seen a historic uprising of students all over the country- yet in Surrey the response has been strangely muted. Surrey University NUS booked coaches to ferry students to the 10th November demonstration but failed to build a campaign. Indeed, it was clear that the executive was reluctant to lay on transport at-all, and only did so because the demonstration was called by the National NUS. Surrey’s NUS did nothing to promote the event and refused to print or distribute posters. Some flyers were produced but they had no details of transport, time or place. The A5 flyers had only the word Demo-Lition and a date written on them. They looked like cryptic night-club flyers. This was surely an intentional device in order to limit the number of students attending the demonstration and stunt any campaign before it got started.

A meeting was held between two students and two Surrey NUS executive officers following the 10th November demonstration. In this meeting the Executives repeated many times that they did not want to see a campaign against Fees & Cuts in the University.

University Students, College Students and School Students must join with workers to fight against all cuts from all quarters. The cuts agenda is not based on fiscal considerations; it is an ideological attempt to roll back the welfare state.

 There is a real alternative to:
*The scrapping of the EMA
*The rise in fees to £9,000
*40% cut in University education funding across the board
*Total end of government funding for arts and humanities subjects in universities
*Redundancies for lecturers and support staff
*The marketisation of education, which aims to produce a two tier education system and will see many universities close.

Students, teachers, lecturers and parents must recognise that the cuts in education are part of the wider cuts to public services.

 In Surrey this means:
*Closure of the connections careers and youth advisory service
*25% cut in fire service
*The probable closure of all libraries, to be replaced by mobile libraries
*Scrapping of the Education Welfare Service
*400 redundancies at the Royal Surrey Hospital, with more to come
*The reduction of beds per ward at the Royal Surrey Hospital
*Cutting of home help service for the disabled and elderly
*Closure of youth centres and Youth Outreach Services
*There has already been a £3.5million cut in Youth Services 
*The subsidy for “less profitable” bus services scrapped –meaning less busses and the end to some routes
*Mother and Baby support service closed
*A 30% cut in government funding to the council
*Scrapping of infrastructure projects and road repair programs
*The job Centre is also due to be cut, just when unemployment is rising
*Community Support offices in Frimley, Farnham, and Staines are going to close
*Family support funding is going to be scrapped
*The council’s adult service budget is being slashed
This is just a few of the savage cuts we are seeing to our public services.

Employment is set to soar in Surrey. Funding for the National Tax Office in Woking is to be slashed, whilst large corporations get away with dodging multi-million pound tax bills.  Surrey’s primary schools have been urged to become academies thus removing the council’s responsibility for primary school education. Social workers are going to be made redundant, with those that are left doing more of the administration that support workers were doing.

But if we stand together and say NO we can reverse this attack on our living standards. The students have shown us how. The cracks in the coalition are already starting to widen, but we need to work together, the cuts aren’t going to defeat themselves.

We’ve started a F/book page “Guildford Against Fees And Cuts”. We want this to become the main conduit for communication to discuss our ideas.  Please join and post your ideas.

Most of all we need help to kick start the campaign in Guildford.
*We need help to run a stall in the University- It doesn’t matter whether you are a student.
*We need help to distribute flyers at Guildford College and in the town centre.

*We need your ideas and input, your skills and creativity.
If you are at college, university, or school. If you are a teacher, student or parent -unemployed or a worker Join the campaign:
Guildford Against Fees And Cuts – as part of the wider Save Our Services in Surrey campaign. – Help us build for the demonstrations on the 11th and 21st December.
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Guildford-Against-Fees-Cuts/167151436659040
Email: guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

 


Dates To Remember:

Thursday, December 9, at 12:00pm, Parliament Square, London
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts – March on Parliament.
This is the day parliament decides on the future of education
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=174417069252718&ref=mf

Saturday, December 11th, at 11:30am, Assemble Woking Train Station
Demonstration Against The Cuts. Called by Save Our Services in Surrey.
This promises to be a large demonstration to kick-start the campaign in Guildford and beyond. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=111862642215211&ref=mf

 Tuesday, December 21, at 12:00pm, Outside County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston, KT1
Don’t Let Them Sell Out Surrey: Lobby Surrey County Council.
The council will be deciding the fate of the Fire Service, Libraries, Youth and Senior Citizen’s services at this meeting.
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=177155738977156&ref=mf

 No Ifs No Buts No Public Service or Education cuts!!! 

Join Guildford Against Fees And Cuts F/b page for updates – and post your thoughts
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Guildford-Against-Fees-Cuts/167151436659040

Email: guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk
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Join Save Our Services in Surrey: Demonstrate 24 November.

Build General Assemblies

In Guildford
We need a broad based student movement in the University to resist education cuts. A General Assembly that recognises the attacks on education is part of a wider program of attacks on public services.Here in Guildford we are seeing the total scrapping of the Connections careers service. Youth centers are being closed and social workers are being made redundant. This is in addition to a £3.9m reduction to front-line services for children and young people that was implemented earlier in the year. There have been 400 redundancies at the hospital with more on the way. A 25% reduction in our fire service. Road repairs are being put on-hold and road-gritting will be stopped this year. Council workers are being made redundant. There are cuts in benefits for the ever increasing numbers of unemployed, and services for the disabled are being cut. The Education Welfare service is being scrapped. The ‘Mother and Baby’ support centers have been closed. The list is endless. Bus services are also about to be reduced and in some places scrapped, due to the ending of the grant bus companies receive to provide less profitable bus services.

These local attacks are in-part due to a 30% cut in the central government grant awarded to local councils. Students, workers, trade unionists and service users must campaign together to put a stop to these unnecessary assaults on public services.Save Our Services in Surrey has already led several successful campaigns, stopping the closures of Shortwood School and Brooklands College. It has a dozen trades union branches affiliated to it, and several community organisations. Royal Holloway University Anti-Cuts Alliance, based at the Royal Holloway University in Egham is also affiliated.
Surrey University needs a large Anti-Cuts campaign “Save Our Services in Surrey Students” that can benefit from the knowledge of experienced campaigners and trade unionists, and with whom we can co-ordinate our campaigns.Education Activists Network Planning Meeting, 15th November.
With millions of young people, teachers and students inspired by the size and militancy of the 10 November national education demonstration, last night’s planning meeting for the Education Activists Network (EAN) was full of two hundred students and trade unionists in London who were eager to join the resistance and make their voice on the way forward heard.
But it rapidly became clear that the meeting – billed as an open and democratic forum for action was just a fig leaf for decisions made behind closed doors by an unelected clique. Farcically, an irresponsible 2pm gathering point just outside the Liberal HQ on the 24th November had already been announced to the national press in a conference called a few hours earlier by Socialist Worker Party (SWP) members within EAN.
Even worse; while the EAN, little more than an SWP front was unilaterally announcing the Liberal HQ protest, the SWP’s other front organisation, Right To Work, was sending out emails calling for the protest to be outside Parliament. 
Nonetheless, new faces, not just from the education movement but from London trade unions and youth services in the capital quickly filled the room. Activists excited by the prospect of a militant struggle against cuts chatted to each other, exchanging contact details and information.

When the meeting was started by Kings College UCU President Jim Wolfreys, there were shouts from the floor asking why NUS President Aaron Porter, who was due to be speaking, hadn’t turned up. “Where is he?!” students cried!

Speaking from the platform, Paul Whittaker, UCU President refused to condone or condemn the occupiers of Millbank Tower, while Mark Bergfeld from the NUS ‘block-of-12’ and SWP made an impassioned speech for solidarity with those arrested, to escalate the action and build committees of action as part of building a movement capable of launching a general strike to break the Con-Dem government. A speaker from a successful indefinite strike at Tower Hamlets College spoke about the electrifying effect student protests had had on workers at her college.

Mark was right dead right that we need committees of action – but it soon became clear that this meeting certainly wasn’t one.

Strike together!
John Bowman from REVOLUTION said that it was “a disgrace” that Aaron Porter hadn’t shown his face and that if he refuses to fight to save our education, then he should “make way for someone who will.” He said that we should defend education “by any means necessary”, and that we needed a national UCU strike alongside mass student struggle to defeat the cuts.

Echoing this, a member of the National Union of Teachers NEC said that their union was bringing forward their claims, aiming to coordinate national strike action with other public sector unions. He said that a focus for our movement had to be getting rid of Britain’s anti-union laws that allow the courts to ban strikes if they do not fulfill strict criteria. Simon Hardy from REVOLUTION at Westminster University said: “If they’re scared of a few broken windows, they’ll be terrified when we build a movement that gives workers the confidence to break the anti-union laws.”

Act before you think?
But as more speakers from the floor put forward ideas for the next steps that should be taken, Education Activists Network leaflets were passed round the room – declaring that students should gather outside the Lib Dem HQ at 2pm.

But a meeting of 60 students the night before, representing a large number of different universities and F/E colleges had already decided that this was potentially dangerous – at best leading people into a police pen or “kettle”, and at worst gathering an unformed and unorganised demonstration into the hands of violent police bent on revenge for the Tory HQ occupation. So a compromise was reached, that protests should meet at Trafalgar Square at 12pm, 10 minutes away from the HQ.

Socialist Workers Party and EAN activists, including Mark Bergfeld had attended this meeting – and chose to ignore the democratically agreed decisions.

Ashok Kumar, Education Officer at LSE was exasperated. He said that he was on the EAN steering committee – but had not been at all consulted about the 2pm Lib Dem office start point, and told about the press conference only one hour before it happened.

EAN is looking and acting more like a party front than a grassroots campaign, if it continues like this, it will not organise the movement but become irrelevant to it.

So what can we do instead? – General Assemblies
In European countries which have seen mass movements of youth and students, like France and Greece, General Assemblies are called which bring students, workers, different unions and campaigns together, at local, regional and national levels. This is what we need to see in Britain now as a burning priority. At these meetings proposals for action are made, voted upon and taken back to local groups by delegates for implementation – and breaking the decisions made by the mass movement is a recipe for isolation.

The assemblies are democratic and grow out of the movement, being called and built for by all activists as organising centers for the struggle.

We need a general assembly of students in Guildford to unite students into an unstoppable movement and to co-ordinate our actions locally and nationally with workers, youth and trade unionists.

A General Assembly has been called in London for the 21st November. Jo Pinto from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) said she hoped the Assembly on Sunday would be the first of many. “It’s a great initiative. This is where things really kick off. The General Assembly will bring unity to our movement – but that doesn’t have to mean consensus – if we democratically choose the strategy to go forward, we’ve succeeded.”

“In France and other countries across Europe with enormous student movements, general assemblies have played a key role not just in organising mass unified resistance to government attacks, but have even gone on to becoming key coordinating bodies in mass general strike situations”.

Revolution Socialist Youth and NCAFC member John Bowman, one of the General Assembly’s organisers said “The General Assembly will aim to bring together university and college anti-cuts groups, trade unionists, student unions, college students and school students into a mighty mass forum of resistance to the attacks on education and beyond.

We musn’t let the SWP split the student campaign. Come to the lunch-time protest on 24th November, 12-2pm outside Starbucks, near the entrance to the Student Union. Join the campaign against Fees and Cuts by joining Guildford Against Fees And Cuts on the 24th.
Save Our Services in Surrey:
www.saveourservic.es

Guildford Against Fees & Cuts:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Guildford-Against-Fees-Cuts/167151436659040

London General Assembly on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/l/d609cWb0KaSafN8-yterA3Vs1_g;www.socialistrevolution.org/1416/londonassembly
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Big turnout at student anti-fees protest emboldens TUC leadership to plan wider campaign against government cuts

13th November.
Trade union leaders are planning to link up with students to launch a wider campaign against government cuts, it was disclosed today in the Guardian.

The student protest on Wednesday ended in violence when some demonstrators occupied Conservative party headquarters in London, but trade union leaders said the sight of tens of thousands of young people demonstrating peacefully had “given heart” to trade unionists. “The senseless violence on Wednesday … has distracted media attention from the significantly bigger turnout than expected,” said Nigel Stanley, head of campaigns at the TUC, which is planning to stage a national demonstration in the spring. “But the big numbers have given real heart to campaigners across the country.”

Tony Woodley, the joint general secretary of Unite, said “the anger and passion” shown by the students was shared by millions of trade unionists. He said: “Unless the ConDem coalition starts to draw some conclusions from the outrage their cuts are causing, more and more people will start taking to the streets. Unite and other trade unions are fully committed to linking up with the broadest range of other groups, including students, to make the government change its mind.”

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT, said: “Our immediate challenge is to link up all the different groups at the sharp end of the ConDem austerity measures into a united force of opposition that can turn the tide on Clegg and Cameron. The political and chattering classes have seriously underestimated the public mood and RMT will work with students, pensioners, communities and our fellow trade unionists to build the strongest possible co-ordinated and peaceful resistance in the coming months.”

Student leaders, emboldened by the scale of Wednesday’s demonstration are planning a new wave of direct action in two weeks. Clare Solomon, president of the University of London Union, predicted campuses around the country would be closed. “It has been done before … Three years ago students in Greece occupied for over a year and reversed the government’s decision. Students did it in the 60s and the 1980s.”Student groups have been deciding their next move, with many planning sit-ins, occupations and walkouts.

Activists who occupied dozens of Vodafone stores last month, saying that the company had avoided paying £6bn in taxes, are planning “a day of mass civil disobedience against tax avoidance” on 4 December targeting other high street names. While Vodafone denies its claim, the group, known as UK Uncut, closed Vodafone stores across the UK.

One co-ordinator of the campaign said: “What we saw with the student demonstration this week is that there is a real anger among a huge section of the population and this is not just the old faces and usual suspects. Many of the people on the Vodafone demonstration had not been involved in demonstrations before but feel like they want to take a stand.”

The National Union of Students said it was planning local campaigns against Liberal Democrat MPs, reminding them of their pre-election pledge to vote against a rise in tuition fees in English universities.

The TUC said the student anti-fees movement could put a lot of pressure on MPs. “Coalition MPs in marginal seats, particularly those who stood against immediate cuts and higher fees, should be very worried about the local campaigns springing up round the country,” said Stanley. The TUC’ demonstration on 26 March was, he said, to be the “largest … that we have organised for many years.

“We will be working to build the broadest possible coalition of support,” he said. “It will not just be those who work or who have lost their jobs in public services, but also workers in the private sector hit by cuts, users of public services and all those who are worried about the damage done to society and the economy by these deep, rapid cuts.”

We say:
We want a real coalition with the TUC, with funding from unions, and solidarity with students who are victimised and arrested and crucially, and most importantly demand they coordinate their strikes and protests with ours and call for solidarity action to support student protests.

In 2006 in France a wave of student occupations and mass protests forced the trade unions to back the students and they had several days of action/general strikes with students and workers united, which forced the government to back down. We should be looking to do the same. 
Support the November 24th Day of Action against Fees & Cuts – Join Save Our Services in Surrey!
Join Guildford Against Fees & Cuts F/b Page for updates

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