Tuesday, 22 June 2010

UoW students support the marking boycott

To our fellow University of Westminster students,

We write to express our support for the UCU staff and their current marking boycott. While such action is, of course, unpleasant all round, we know that our tutors have been forced to take this action by the management of the University of Westminster, who have resisted every attempt by the UCU to engage in meaningful discussion of their proposed job cuts. The trade unions that represent staff (namely the lecturers’ union, UCU, and the support staff union, UNISON) have argued that (1) such cuts are unnecessary as they are based on a ‘projected’, rather than a real deficit, and; (2) such cuts, if implemented, would result in a serious deterioration of the quality of education at this university. Such a deterioration is inevitable, if job cuts are made, and will affect us ALL. Clearly there is money available; you only have to look at the tens of thousands of pounds spent on the refurbishment of the Regent Street Campus and the fact that the Vice-Chancellor earns over £200,000 a year. Why should people lose their jobs and our education (an education that costs us all £3225+ a year) suffer because of mismanagement?

While we are in no doubt as to the intentions of our tutors and the importance of our education to them all, on the other hand we are constantly reminded that the management of our university see it as a profit-making business and forget that education should be the number one priority of ALL involved in its running. We write as students from all stages in our degrees – some of us have just completed our first year and some are due to graduate this Summer. Of course, it is not ideal for any of us to be without our results, but the cost of late results is no comparison to losing over 200 of our much needed teaching staff. We are united with the UCU members and we will continue to join them on the picket lines and demonstrate our support whenever we have the opportunity.

We fully understand that the intention of the current marking boycott is not to hurt us and our fellow students but to force management to sit down and negotiate seriously with the unions. As we are all aware, this dispute could be resolved easily and quickly, if management would agree to hold mediated talks with the unions. We ask that, until management agree to negotiations, the UCU continue their action, not just in the name of their jobs but in the name of our education. Student support for the UCU action and for the Anti-Cuts campaign as a whole is strong and we will continue to make this clear, and to spread the word to every University of Westminster student (past, present and future) through our own, peaceful, action.

What can you do?
The Fight Cuts Campaign was set up as student organisation that brought together students who are against the job cuts at this university. We have been campaigning against the cuts and in support of staff because we believe that a united response is the most effective strategy to save this university from further deterioration. You can find out more about our activities on our blog: http://fightcutsatuow.blogspot.com/

In the short-term, there are other ways in which students can lend a voice to the current dispute. Write to the Vice-Chancellor Geoff Petts (pettsg@wmin.ac.uk) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Ricki Morgan-Tamosunas (morganr@wmin.ac.uk), urging them to end the current dispute by finding a settlement with the unions. The unions do not want to be in this position but feel they have no choice; management, on the other hand, could very easily find a resolution to this dispute if only they were willing. The more pressure we put on management as students united with staff, the more likely it is that management will return to the negotiating table.

We urge all students not to direct their anger at staff. This is a difficult time for all staff concerned, some of whom have already lost their jobs, and we should be showing our solidarity with them. TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER.

All at The Fight Cuts Campaign

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