Solidarity with Alfie Meadows: Demonstration on Monday March 26

The following text is taken from http://on.fb.me/yWVRLk

We will be holding a Solidarity demonstration outside Kingston Crown Court on the first day of Alfie Meadow’s trial. Supporters include: Tariq Ali, Jody McIntyre (Equality Movement) and Gigi Ibrahim (Egyptian revolutionary and Blogger).

Alfie was amongst thousands of students who came on the demonstration on the day of the tuition fee vote (9th December 2010). Alfie is a Philosophy student at Middlesex University, his university department faced closure (it will be closed by the end of this academic year) and when he protested, he received a life threatening injury. But outrageously Alfie has since been charged with violent disorder and faces a trial on 26th March. The police who carried out attacks on protesters throughout the day and evening are yet to face any charges. This forms part of a pattern of attacks on protest which has seen hundreds of students arrested and scores either charged or sentenced to long terms in prison.

Many workers and trade unionists came down to Whitehall on the evening of 9th December after they had finished work, to stand in solidarity with the protesters being kettled. We are asking for the same display of support for Alfie Meadows as he goes into court on 26th March. We demand an end to political charging and sentencing of protesters. We must defend the right to protest. Drop all charges against Alfie Meadows.

Come along to the demonstration and Sign the Petition here:
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/justice-for-alife-meadows/

Initiated by Defend the Right to Protest Campaign

www.defendtherighttoprotest.org
Email: info@defendtherighttoprotest.org
Facebook page: defendtherighttoprotest // Add Right to Protest
Twitter: @righttoprotest

General Meeting and General Secretary Election Hustings: 22nd Feb

The election for General Secretary, as well as other important national positions, has already started and voting closes on Thursday 1 March. You ought by now to have received your ballot paper. If you haven’t, or have mislaid it, please go to
http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=5781.

We have made repeated attempts to book both candidates for General Secretary to come to a hustings meeting at Goldsmiths and we regret to report that Sally Hunt is not able to come. She emailed us the following:

‘I am very sorry. Please let your members know that I am more than happy to answer any questions that they have personally and they can contact me at sallyhuntgs@gmail.com‘.

She also asked us to point out that her manifesto is available at:
http://sallyhunt4gs.blogspot.com/2012/02/manifesto.html

We are pleased, however, that Mark Campbell, who is also standing for General Secretary, will be able to join us at our next general meeting at 12 noon next Wednesday, 22 February in the Ben Pimlott Building Lecture Theatre.

His manifesto is at: http://markcampbell4gs.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/my-election-address-and-biographical-details/

There are several other urgent issues that we will need to consider, include an update on the USS dispute and VT negotiations, as well as one motion.

We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday.

Important Update on USS Dispute: Action Suspended

A special conference of all the institutions involved in the USS dispute met on Jan 31 and agreed by 66-41 votes to suspend the current industrial action in order to pursue negotiations with the employers. The employers had offered to extend the right to an unreduced pension on redundancy from October 2013 to October 2014 and to review the specific terms of the new CARE (career average) scheme that was imposed in October – but only on condition that UCU suspends the work to contract.

UCU negotiators recommended taking up this offer – the plan being to use the better aspects of TPS (Teachers’ Pension Scheme) as a bargaining tool – and insisted that this does not mean that the dispute has now ended but simply that the current action will be suspended while talks on these two areas are carried out. If talks do not lead anywhere, we have been assured that the dispute will be ‘reignited’ and further industrial action organised.

There was a vigorous debate about whether to suspend action, continue with the work to contract or to escalate (a position adopted by our branch). We pointed out that it may not be easy to relaunch the action, especially if we are out of sync with other public sector workers (many of whom have rejected the government’s latest offer). In the end, however, it was felt
that the aim of our summer ballot (to bring the employers back to the negotiating table) had been achieved and that therefore it was legitimate to freeze the dispute.

We will of course discuss the implications of this decision at forthcoming general meetings and to consider our response. In the meantime, we would like to thank all members for their support in this dispute and to assure you that we will monitor the progress of the negotiations very carefully.