Friday, 27 March 2015

Success in University of Bath Living Wage Battle

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts and the three trade unions at the University of Bath have declared a victory in their long campaign for a Living Wage at the university.

Press release from Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts:

After months of increasingly vocal protest on campus, the University of Bath has announced to staff this week that they will pay all workers at least £7.85 an hour – the equivalent of a Living Wage! For the lowest paid staff, many of them student workers, this concession from management represents a pay rise of over 20%.

In recent months, Bath Students against Fees and Cuts and members of the local trade unions have staged four demonstrations on campus calling for a Living Wage for all, an end to exploitative contracts and a reduction in overall pay inequality at the University. In February we held a “Vice Chancellor’s Day” party to highlight the growing gap between the highest and lowest paid at the University. We also had two large protests outside meetings of the University Council, and a lobby of University Court at the beginning of March saw Vice Chancellor Glynis Breakwell and Chancellor Edward Windsor forced to take a back door into the meeting to avoid the students and staff waiting outside.

It is no coincidence that University management have backed down now after months of pressure from protests and activism on campus. Campaigns for equality inevitably involve challenging and putting pressure on those with power and privilege, not by obediently “working in partnership” with them. This victory shows what we can achieve when we organise and fight!

Winning a significant pay rise for the lowest paid staff is a big deal. But while we are celebrating this success, the fight for increased equality and better conditions for working and studying at the university has only just begun. The pay increase that the University have offered is in the form of a “pay supplement”, which university managers could take away at any time, over two thousand workers remain on exploitative zero hour contracts, and overall pay inequality on campus is among the worst in the UK.

Bath Students against Fees and Cuts will be continue to fight for:
+ a maximum 5:1 pay ratio between the highest and lowest earners
+ a GUARANTEED Living Wage for all in-house and out-sourced staff
+ democratic control over senior management pay and appointments
+ action to address gender and race inequality
+ secure employment contracts for all staff, including students who work at the university
+ an end to fees tuition fees and a return to free and publicly funded education, which we believe is a right and not a privilege.

On Saturday 28th March we will be attending a national demonstration in Birmingham calling on the Labour Party to support free education and grants, not make weak pledges to reduce tuition fees to £6000 a year.
For more information, and to get involved in the campaign, visit and send us a message.


Standing Stone's Blog caught up with University of Bath student and Living Wage campaigner, Maisie Sanders, who told us:

“Hopefully this will encourage other businesses in Bath, as well as other universities, to pay their staff a Living Wage, especially seeing as the University of Bath employs more staff on the minimum wage than any other UK university. 

“However, there’s still a lot to be done in terms of lobbying the university to put people before profit. Thousands of staff are employed on insecure zero-hour contracts, which discriminate against women and disabled workers, and pay inequality is still staggering with the Vice Chancellor paid one of the highest salaries in British higher education.”

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Stop Benefit Sanctions Demo - 19th March

Anti-austerity campaigner Zarria explains the reason behind the forthcoming demonstration in Bath against benefit sanctions
Hello Everyone,

I am writing to invite you all to my Stop Benefit Sanctions Demo, on Thursday 19th March. 11 am start, outside of the jobcentre. It is a nationally organised Demonstration, organised by Unite in the Community. 

I would like to just explain (as briefly as I can) why I am doing this demo & why it is very important to me.
I’m sure I’m not contacting anyone who hasn’t seen the news, hasn’t heard the stories or isn’t aware of the austerity measures being handed out. We have all been hit, one way or another. We are all concerned about the rise in our utility bills, food & general costs of living. Our essential services are bearing the brunt of harsh cutbacks & so, it is having an effect on us all.

Under this particular Government, to save money from the welfare budget, some groups have been hit particularly hard. It isn’t just the people who are out of work & claiming welfare support. Working families, people on low paid zero hour contract, people on minimum wage & vulnerable people with disabilities have all been targeted. 2.3m families have affected by the bedroom tax and 380,000 families by council tax support cuts. Rising food, static incomes, underemployment and changes to benefits are some of the reasons why increasing numbers are being referred to food banks, for emergency food. In 2013/14 Food banks fed 913,138 people nationwide. Of those helped, 330,205 were children. They are conservative figures but I’m sure one does get the picture.
As long as you follow the rules of the benefit you’re getting, you should carry on receiving your payments. But if you don’t do something you’ve agreed to do, such as applying for a job or going to an interview, they may be temporarily stopped or reduced.  Offences, such as being minutes late for a meeting at the DWP, or going for an interview when you should be signing on, will get you sanctioned. This link below will allow you to look at some of the ridiculous reasons people have been sanctioned & for how long.
Stupid sanction reasons but nonetheless, they are real reasons used. Some people would say you know the rules, so don’t break them. Which would be fair enough but the rules aren’t at all flexible & as some in the link, not explained. Sanctions equal no food, no gas, no electricity, no credit for the phone, nothing for weeks. It’s hard enough to live without a job but it’s really hard on welfare.

I’m sure there are people who exploit the Benefits system but I haven’t met anyone who does. The Media (print & broadcast) portray the ‘benefit cheats’ as skivers, drinking, watching Sky TV (don’t start me on why they shouldn’t be doing that) & having hundred’s of children, whilst doing some odd cleaning jobs (e.g. for a Politician). I’m not defending anyone who gets away with cheating but I am standing up for those who find life hard, can’t get a job (for whatever reason) but try to make their lives better. I was doing two voluntary jobs, supporting people into work. Helping people look for jobs, use the Universal Credit job search website, helping them get ready for work, write CV’s, filling in forms for people who couldn’t write very well but I was made redundant. The funding was stopped & I really don’t know how they are fairing now. I’m standing up for the people who may get sanctioned because the system (IDS & Co) says they can be sanctioned.
If you can join me, on the 19th, fantastic. If you can’t, don’t worry. I’m doing it for everyone.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts - A Week of Action

Living Wage lobby of the Bath University Council
In their busiest week yet, Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts undertook three actions for their campaigns against tuition fees and for a Living Wage at the University of Bath.

The actions started with a Living Wage lobby of the University of Bath council, along with the university unions, on Thursday 26th February. Many students have jobs at the university as well as non-academic staff, and many are paid below the Living Wage - an hourly rate calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK - currently £7.85 an hour. The campaigners started the demonstration at 3.30pm in the stairwell of Wessex House, where the council meeting was being held. Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts campaigner Katy Boyce told us "Around 20 people petitioned and lobbied members of the university council, including the Vice Chancellor, for a Living Wage at the University of Bath. The Vice Chancellor was visibly perturbed by our presence and the confrontation with one of our members".

While on her way to the meeting, demonstrators confronted Vice Chancellor Glynis Breakwell over the issue. Joe Rayment, the Young Members' Officer at Bath University Unison was able to engage in dialogue with the Vice Chancellor. Joe told her "More people than are here today could be paid on  a living wage just with your salary", to which the VC replied "I can do the maths. Joe then replied "Can you do morality?". A video of the confrontation has now exceeded 800 views since the weekend.

                                         Living Wage lobby of Bath University Council

When asked about the confrontation and the video, Joe told us "I am incredibly pleased by how far and wide the video has been spread. The fact that the Vice Chancellor is either unable or unwilling to defend her bloated salary is demonstrative of the interests that she is serving through her management of the university."

Free Education banner at the
Bath Half-marathon"
On Sunday 1st March, members of Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts lined the route of the Bath Half-marathon with "Free Education" banners. Several members of the group were also running in the half-marathon. The action was intended to raise awareness at the high-profile event. A campaigner from Bath Students Against Cuts told us "The issue does not just affect current students, but the consequences of extortionate tuition fees will be felt by generations to come".

The final action of the week was a lobby of the Bath University Court - the statutory body representing the interests of the University's internal and external constituencies. Demonstrators from Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts and the university unions began the protest at 3pm on Tuesday 3rd March outside East Building.
Living wage lobby of Bath University Court

Attendees of the Court meeting included Vice Chancellor Glynis Breakwell and Chancellor Prince Edward, who rather than face the campaigners chose to enter the building via the back door. Demonstrators handed out letters from the unions and from students to members of Court, raising their concerns about the university not paying the Living Wage.

                                         Living Wage Lobby of Court Video

Katy Boyce told us "The Court members were generally quite receptive, many of them took leaflets and some even signed the petition."

Joe Rayment from Bath University Unison attended the court meeting: "In the court meet I challenged the VC to commit to a reduction every year in the pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid staff at the university. She said she would not commit to this because if the university is to stay competitive, apparently we must pay our best people well. When I sought clarification about whether this meant that she was threatening to leave if she did not continue to receive large pay rises every year, despite being the highest paid member of staff at the university, she claimed that this was not what she was saying."

If you live in Bath and support Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts, get involved! Their Facebook page is and they post details of meetings and actions there.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Upcoming Living Wage Action at University of Bath

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts and the trade unions at University of Bath will be demonstrating outside the University Council meeting, this Thursday, meeting at the Tiki cafe at 3.30pm.

A statement released by the group reads:
"The Living Wage is the minimum amount someone needs to earn to maintain a normal standard of Living. Disgracefully, the University of Bath refuses to pay a Living Wage to hundreds of its staff, the majority of whom are students. In contrast, the University's senior managers are extremely well paid. For example, the Vice Chancellor recently got another payrise, bringing her annual salary to £395,000! To put that into context, it would take some staff well over thirty years to earn what the Vice Chancellor earns in just one. This inequality is staggering, and getting worse. We say it has to stop.

On Thursday, Bath Students against Fees and Cuts will be joining the campus trade unions to call for a Living Wage for all University staff, and an urgent reduction in pay inequality on campus. Come and join us to lobby the University Council into doing the right thing - to pay all staff a wage they can afford to live on!

Meet at 15:30 in Wessex House, in the south stairwell on level 2. To get there, walk past the 4 West Cafe (Tiki) on your left hand side, and take the next door on the left. Bring your best chanting voices and a sign if you can"
 Social media users can join the Facebook event page here.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Our Statement on the 2015 Elections

Standing Stone's Blog reports on radical campaigns, protests and views from a variety of left-wing, anarchist and environmentalist perspectives. The views of the contributors to this blog vary, however the key factor uniting us and our fellow activists and campaigners in the wider community is the willingness to get active in order to try and make a better world, and to stand up against those who are responsible for oppression, inequality, war and environmental degradation, amongst other issues.

We are sceptical of all authority figures and those that seek power, and we have learned from history that just because a politician or political party says they will do something if they get elected, there is no guarantee that they will follow it through. Many in the Bath activist community feel that they were cheated in the last election - Don Foster's legacy is one of broken promises (NHS, Tuition Fees and environmental issues to name three), as well as selling out to the Tories. There are those that feel that voting is ineffective and that power corrupts, who will be spoiling ballots or not voting at all in the next election, and we intend to give those views coverage in the build-up to the election.

We believe that this country has been let down by a succession of Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat governments pushing a neo-liberal agenda, who do not take seriously issues such as poverty and the environment. We are fundamentally opposed to the right-wing xenophobia espoused by the likes of UKIP. All of these parties will continue with austerity programmes to varying degrees and therefore we cannot support them. We are continually reminded by Labour that they are the only viable left-wing alternative, however we disagree - if Labour are truly a party of the left they need to try much harder. Re-instating Clause 4, providing a workable alternative to austerity and scrapping Trident are just three of the things their manifesto would need to contain before we could even begin to consider them a true party of the left.

Voting will appear on our forthcoming article on activist tactics, ranked third from bottom in terms of effectiveness. That is not to say that voting is completely ineffective, however it has limitations, and in isolation is unlikely to effect lasting, meaningful change for the betterment of this country and the wider world. We are in agreement with a slogan used on posters for the 2015 Bristol Anarchist Bookfair - "Don't just vote - get active". In most cases, real change comes not from putting an X next a name once every 4-5 years, but from grassroots campaigns and communities, which often put pressure on MPs. All of those, even the nicer ones, who gain power at the next election should be held accountable for their actions in parliament.

Lasting change is unlikely to ever occur under the current political system in this country. Politicians have the right to change their minds on issues once they gain power, and everyone has a price, and compromises are often made on the route to power that result in even the most well-meaning politician being unable to implement the changes that the people they represent would like to see. Members of parties with whips (Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) are also often pressured into voting against their wishes, which completely undermines the concept of a representative democracy.

On some issues, and in combination with other tactics, voting can make some changes. Occasionally, politicians do bring about measures that benefit the people they claim to represent, such as the creation of the NHS, the ban on CFCs and better rights for women. On most occasions, such measures are a direct result of targeted campaigns with a large number of grassroots supporters. In order to gain power, politicians have to win an election, and having policies that benefit society as a whole (regardless of whether or not they are ultimately implemented) is a tried and tested tactic.

Recently, a growing number of activists in Bath are flocking to the Green Party, who have substantially increased their membership both nationally and in Bath and North East Somerset. Green Party banners have been present on most recent demonstrations, and the Green Party candidate for Bath, Dominic Tristram, has supported and occasionally spoken at recent demonstrations (including both Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts marches) and has long stood on picket lines with NHS workers, as well as using his position as the local NHS Trust governer to fight privatisation of the National Health Service. Because of this, Dominic is rapidly gaining support in the Bath constituency. The Green Party have seen a huge increase in support and membership nationally, and are frequently portrayed as the anti-establishment party who aren't full of racists, sexists and bankers, and who are considerably to the left of Labour.

We are under no illusions that an increase in Green MPs in 2015, let alone a shock majority, would go far enough to solving this country's or the world's problems. There are those on the left who have had their issues with the Green Party at a local level, such as in Bristol and in Brighton where cuts have been made. Those in the Green Party say that the cuts were made by the Conservative/Lib Dem government and that they had little choice. While there is truth in this, we would expect a true party of the left to at least kick up a big fuss about it - in short, the Greens need to try much harder on this front. At the same time, we have to give the Green MP Caroline Lucas credit for using her position to fight issues such as the badger cull and fracking, both in parliament and by attending demonstrations organised by grassroots campaigns. These are two issues that we have few doubts about the Green Party's commitment to opposing. The Greens nationally also oppose austerity and support a greener economy. Whether or not they would achieve everything they say they would do remains to be seen, and it is almost certain that activists would need to continue fighting for a better world even with a Green majority in May.

Despite the issues with the Green Party, one thing is clear - they are at least promoting an alternative that is broadly in line with the views of many within the Bath activist community. The candidate, Dominic Tristram, has shown a good level of commitment to fighting cuts and privatisation, supporting public service workers and standing up for the students of this city. In North East Somerset, Katy Boyce, who has recently been selected as the Green candidate has also long shown a strong level of commitment to left-wing causes and environmental issues, and we have worked with her on campaigns in the past. Katy also stands in solidarity with the Free Education movement and has proven herself to be committed to standing up for the student community in North East Somerset. As members of a non-whipped party it is much less likely that, if they were to win, they would be pressured into voting against their wishes. The Green surge in recent months is also putting pressure on the Labour Party to consider more left-wing policies, such as re-nationalising the railways. While we do not support the current political system, continue to have issues with the Green Party (albeit significantly less than the other main parties) and recognise the limitations of representative democracy, we are also aware that this situation is unlikely to change in the near future. If we have to be represented in parliament by someone, we'd rather have the best of what's on offer than the worst. We also believe that climate change is one of the biggest factors affecting all life on this planet - and that this is one issue that needs to be acted upon now. While we do not think that they go far enough, the Green Party are the most dedicated of the main parties to combating it.

For the reasons stated above, Standing Stone's Blog has taken the decision to give the Green Party and their local candidates some coverage in the build-up to the next election. This does not imply that this blog is officially supportive of the Green Party. We simply consider Dominic and Katy to be the best of the candidates on offer at present in our area, and they are people that we have had time for prior to them standing for election. As an independent news source we will also be covering the views of those who will not be voting on principle, and intend to put tough questions to the candidates. Should either candidate win their respective seat at the next election, we will still be keeping a close eye on them, as we have been doing for Don Foster over the last few years. We also reserve the right to change our stance should we feel it necessary.

We also intend to cover as many of the local hustings as possible. Our friends over at Democratic Accountability Bath will also be filming the hustings and we will provide links to their videos when available. We will also continue to support the Bath activist community and their actions, and stand by the anarchist slogan quoted earlier - "Don't just vote - get active".

Monday, 2 February 2015

University of Bath Vice Chancellor's Day

Vice Chancellor's Day Party at University of Bath
On February 2nd 2015, Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts held a Vice Chancellor's Day celebration, this time at the University of Bath, in recognition of the Vice Chancellor, Glynis Breakwell, having earned three times as much as the lowest paid worker at the university.

Vice Chancellor's Day cake
Over 300 people attended the celebration outside the university library, with music, party hats and a cake with Vice Chancellor's face on it. A petition for a living wage for staff at the university was signed by 295 people, and a card was presented to the Vice Chancellor's Office.

On Monday 2 February, Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts held a celebration to mark the date on which the Vice Chancellor of the University of Bath, one of Bath's biggest employers, earned three times as much as the annual income of the lowest paid worker. The purpose of the celebration was to draw attention to the wage disparity between the lowest paid workers at the university and the Vice Chancellor.

Vice Chancellor Glynis Breakwell currently earns £395,000 a year, compared to the lowest paid workers, who earn around £11,000 a year. The Vice Chancellor recently received a pay rise of £11,000.

Placards at the University of Bath Vice Chancellor's Day
The party comes on the day the Vice Chancellor signed a letter to The Times arguing that cutting tuition fees would "damage the economy, affect the quality of students' education, and set back work on widening access to education." (Note: The hyperlink takes to The Times' paywall, however a screenshot of the article can be found on this Facebook link). Reiss McGuinness, a member of Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts, said "As to be expected."

A student at the party told us: "It was great to get such a positive response from so many students and staff for our Vice Chancellor's Day celebration and more signatures on our petition for a living wage for staff".

The action comes after another Vice Chancellor's Day at Bath Spa University on 23rd January, when the Vice Chancellor there had earned the same amount as the lowest paid worker at the university, and a Free Education march in Bath city centre on 31st January this year.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

March for Free Education - 31st Jan 2015

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts
For their second action of 2015, Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts and their allies took once again to the streets of Bath for a Free Education march. The march set off from Bath Abbey, up the High Street, across George Street, down Milsom Street and ending at the benches near the bus station, where a rally was held. With over 100 students and supporters marching, chanting and banging drums, the demonstration was impossible to ignore. 

Not since the Occupy camp in 2011 has Bath seen so many active people campaigning for a better future, and Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts show no sign of giving up any time soon, with their numbers increasing with every action.

A rally was held on the steps following the demonstration. Speakers included Dr Mike Carley from University of Bath UCU, Dominic Tristram, the Green Party candidate for Bath, Bruce Galliver, the Bath Spa Students' Union president, local guru Ray Raine and students from both Bath Spa University and University of Bath.

Other groups who joined in the march included Bristol Anarchist Federation, Occupy Bath, the Green Party, Universities and Colleges Union and Bath Against Cuts. Also present were Free Education campaigners from the University of the West of England. One of their campaigners had the following to say: "When we had an occupation, we had people from Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts come over and support us. I'm annoyed at having to pay £9000 a year. Education is a human right. I will come and support anyone who is standing up."

Christopher Roche, Campaigns Officer for Bath UCU, said "it's been inspiring to see so many students, staff and members of the local community coming together today to defend the principle of free education for all. The commodification and marketisation of higher education is hurting everyone, except for senior university managers who are in the business of awarding themselves increasingly absurd pay rises without any comprehensible justification. At last year's national conference, in response to a submission by Bath UCU, the union reaffirmed its opposition to tuition fees and support for a free and publicly funded education system. Our branch will continue to work alongside students who remain committed to making that ideal a reality."

                                          Video of the march and rally

Following a successful party celebrating the day on which the Vice Chancellor of Bath Spa University earned as much as the lowest paid worker outside the main house on 23rd January, Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts will be holding a similar Vice Chancellor's Day party at University of Bath on Monday 2nd February at 12 noon. They've even made the cake.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Bath Spa Vice Chancellor's Day

Students at Bath Spa University celebrated their Vice Chancellor's Day in front of the Main House at the University today. Today, Vice Chancellor Christina Slade earned as much as the lowest paid worker in the university earns in a year.

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts organised the party to highlight the pay gap between the Vice Chancellor and other workers at the university. In 2012-2013, Christina took a 6.4% pay rise, taking a new salary of £216,000 when other staff were offered a 1% pay rise.

The Vice Chancellor was unfortunately unable to attend her party as she was on a business trip to Washington at the time. "Probably staying in a 5 star hotel", said one student.

Cody, a student at Bath Spa University told us "It's gone very sucessfully. The samba is about to start to properly catch the attention of students and staff in order to highlight the important issue of pay disparity in the university."

                                                 Video of of the Bath Spa VC Day

The students brought cakes, bubbles, sparklers, party poppers, champagne and an 11-piece samba band to the party, which went on for nearly 3 hours, during which many students and staff members came over to join in the fun.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Neil Sammells, passed by the party and was invited to join in instead of the Vice Chancellor. He told students "I probably shouldn't."

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts brought the idea of VC Days to the attention of students across the country in December at the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts conference, and other universities have been engaging in similar actions of their respective VC Days.

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts will be holding another VC Day at the University of Bath at 12 noon on 2nd February, which will mark the date on which the Vice Chancellor will have earned twice as much as the lowest paid worker at the university.

There will also be a #FreeEducation march on Saturday 31st January, starting at Bath Abbey at 12 noon.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Vice Chancellor's Days - Coming to a University Near You Very Soon

Bath Spa Vice Chancellor meme
Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts have announced that they will be celebrating Vice Chancellors Days - the date on which the Vice Chancellor of each university will have earned as much as the lowest paid worker at the universities - at both University of Bath and Bath Spa University. This announcement comes just days after they announced that another march will be taking place on Saturday 31st January, starting at 12:00 noon at Bath Abbey.

The campaigners intend to hold parties with cakes and a large cheque to "celebrate" the occasion.

The dates and Facebook events for the Vice Chancellor's Days are as follows:

Bath Spa University - Friday 23rd January, 12:00

University of Bath - Monday 2nd February, 12:00

University of Bath Vice Chancellor meme
The University of Bath Vice Chancellors Day will be celebrating the date on which the Vice Chancellor will have earned twice as much as the lowest paid worker. They have also produced a pair of hard-hitting memes that have gone viral this evening on social media featuring the Vice Chancellors of both universities.

Meanwhile, universities across the country will be taking similar actions after members of Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts brought the idea to the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts conference back in December.

In a statement earlier today, Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts said:
"The protests over Vice Chancellor's salaries were designed to coincide with the day when their annual pay would have overtaken the pay of the lowest paid full-time staff. What we found most immediately shocking was how early in the year this actually occurs. In some cases, it is so early in the year that many students have yet to return from their Christmas break.

The initial intention was for a tongue-in-cheek celebration for the Vice Chancellor, the reason being to create a demonstration with a positive, non-intimidatory atmosphere to attract students who may be new to the campaign and new to activism in general. It was also hoped that the staff on campus would appreciate some cake, music and gentle mocking of the Vice Chancellor on their lunch-break.

The aim of the action is to raise awareness of the ridiculous pay disparity between the highest and lowest paid staff, pressure the university management to reassess the current situation and to embarrass the Vice Chancellor as much as possible. We hope that more education bosses realise that they can't get away with accepting six-figure salaries and pay increases of significantly more than other staff.

While Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts have been very proactive in promoting the actions, credit must be given to the member of University of Bath UCU who devised the original idea.

We are very excited to see that these protests are taking place nationwide and are looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts stand in solidarity with all students and staff who will participating in these actions. We believe the sharing of ideas between groups is imperative for the progression of the movement."

Monday, 12 January 2015

#FreeEducation March for 31st January Announced

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts are already preparing for action in 2015, with the announcement of a march on 31st January, starting at 12:00pm at Bath Abbey. The march is part of a national day of action, which will see marches happen across the country.

Their previous march on 6th December 2014 saw in excess of 100 people, including students and other activists from various supportive organisations (those giving full support included Bath University and College Union (UCU), University of Bath Students Union, Bath Against Cuts, Occupy Bath and the Green Party), marching against tuition fees and the privatisation of education. The march was followed by a rally in the Southgate shopping centre. Speakers included students from both universities, Dr Michael Carley From Bath UCU, Joe Rayment from University of Bath Unison, as well as Dominic Tristram, the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Bath and Ollie Middleton, the Labour Party parliamentary candidate.

The campaigners want to raise awareness and keep up the pressure on politicians and universities, who during the term of the the current coalition government have tripled the amount students have to pay in fees to up to £9000 a year, and more for foreign students.

The description on the Facebook event page reads:

"The movement for free education has to be broad and based in communities as well as campuses. Education is a social good, and what we are demanding will benefit everybody - we have never talked just about the scrapping of fees, but about re-imagining a whole new education system.

Last December, marches for free education in local towns and cities were organised nationwide, including Bath. Now it’s time to march again, louder, bigger and stronger.

We will be assembling outside the abbey at 12 noon, and will be marching through the city with banners, placards, drums and our voices. We are organising a rally at the end of the march, if you or anyone you know might be interested in speaking about free education, the commercialisation of universities, or how government cuts are affecting students and staff, please get in touch with us.

Education is too important to be left in the hands of profiteers and corporations. It's time we took it back!"

The Facebook event for the march is here.