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.

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