Category Archives: Youth and Students

Bradford Uni joins the USS pensions dispute

UCU pickets at Bradford Uni - photo Iain Dalton

UCU pickets at Bradford Uni – photo Iain Dalton

UCU members at Bradford were one of four universities which joined the dispute over the USS pensions scheme in on Tuesday 6th March.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

Staff here had to re-ballot after narrowly missing out on reaching the 50% turnout threshold imposed by the Tories latest anti-union laws.

UCU members told us that picketing numbers were up on previous strikes. Many staff were incensed that management is intending to impose 100% wage deductions for staff who won’t reschedule lectures.

One picket told us “They’re trying to deny our right to strike. While management say our strike is penalising students, this deduction is effectively locking us out on non-strike days.”

Some students joined the picket lines, chanting “What do we want… pensions, when do we want them… when we retire” This reflects a fear amongst young people that if existing pensions schemes aren’t defended now, then what will exist in the future?

Socialist Party members got a warm reception from pickets, grateful to welcome support on a cold windy day. We will continue to build support for strike over the next few weeks.


Education First?

On Tuesday 4th November, Hanson Academy in Bradford sent over 150 pupils home for failing to wear school uniform matching its newly enforced standards. These include minutae about the colour of the socks children wear, type of trousers, colour of shoe laces etc.

Angry parents took to the school’s facebook page to complain, one who had accidentally put her daughters tie in the wash, sent her to school with money for a replacement but she was sent home anyway! But given how tight incomes are at present, many parents can’t simply afford to replace school uniform that was perfectly fine until this week.

The Principal, Elizabeth Churlton made the absurd statement in defence of the policy on the school website that “Our uniform and dress codes set the tone for our community and provide the scaffolding for high standards in every aspect of school life” Surely the scaffolding for high standards should be good quality teaching?

However, Churlton is financially worlds apart from the situation faced by the parents of many of her pupils. The advertisement for the post of principal when Churlton applied for the post was around £125,000 a year, whereas the median wage in Bradford East constituency (where the school is located) is less than £18,000 a year.

Academies were designed to wrest local control away from education and instead it now lays in the hands of over-paid bureaucrats like Churlton and the academy trusts behind them. Rather than prioritising a quality education, their supposed “freedom to innovate” is being used to deny education to some of the poorest students and, like the scrapping of january exams and resists, ‘manage’ their expectations for the future where under capitalism only low pay and zero hour contracts await.

Iain Dalton,
Yorkshire Socialist Students Organiser

Why Students Should Support the UCU Marking Boycott

As students are most likely aware, the University and College Union (UCU) have planned a marking boycott that will commence on the 6th November. This will take place at all pre-92 universities, which includes Bradford University.

Bradford University Socialist Students fully support this boycott. Although the boycott may affect our education it is as a result of attacks by the university employers association on the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the pension scheme of our lecturers and academic support staff.

UCU members don’t choose to take any form of industrial action lightly, whether striking or other forms of action such as marking boycotts. Failure to stop these attacks would see staff lose thousands of pounds in retirement, which are in effect deferred wages. The employers argue the USS is in deficit, although their figures exclude all future contributions into the scheme. In reality the scheme is surplus (to the tune of £42bn) and therefore such attacks are unnecessary.

Since the economic crisis and bank bailouts the gap between rich and poor has been growing ever wider. Although lecturers are perhaps not the worst paid in society, even these jobs are being replaced by short-term and zero hour contracts just like other sectors of society. Wages have also stagnated pushing the cost of living up for everyone. If these attacks are not resisted it would only increase USS members struggle in retirement and encourage further attacks on pension rights of all workers.

We support the right to strike and the right for unions to pressure their employers into providing decent jobs, working conditions and pensions, even if it does cause an inconvenience to our life or our education that we pay for.

After all, we pay for our education so we want the best lecturers, high morale amongst staff is essential for us to have the best learning experience. That’s why Socialist Students calls on you to support the boycott, and any upcoming strikes, and show solidarity with our lecturers and other university staff!

Jason Smith – Bradford Uni Socialist Students

Freshers Success at Bradford Uni

Socialist Students stall outside Bradford University

Socialist Students stall outside Bradford University

On Monday 15th September, Socialist Students held a stall outside Bradford Uni on the first day of freshers week to campaign for a £10 an hour minimum wage and sign people up to join Socialist Students. Despite bad weather, we got a terrific response, including been so deep in conversation that we didn’t get around to covering up our leaflets and other material during one deluge.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Students – Yorkshire Organiser

We found a whole layer of students having to work part-time to make ends meet, who agreed with us when we pointed out that multinationals like McDonalds could easily afford £10 an hour now. We met students from a number of countries who were studying at Bradford who already considered themselves socialists.

In the evening we held a ‘What is Socialism?’ meeting, where several new people came to their first Socialist Students meeting. Despite only planning an hour long meeting, discussion went on much later as we covered issues from the Scottish Independence referendum to the housing crisis and much more.

Although there have been individual Socialist Students activists studying at Bradford Uni over the past few years, we haven’t managed to set up an official society yet, But with the momentum we are building, this year we are determined to make a breakthrough.