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Posts Tagged ‘TUC’

The Trades Union Congress 2009

Posted by Tobin Webb on September 25, 2009

Well, what an experience. TUC 09 was a really interesting and exceptionally productive few days.

NUS Funding Fringe Panel

NUS Funding Fringe Panel

1. NUS Funding Our Future Fringe

I had the great privilege of chairing the NUS fringe at TUC with panel members: Wes Streeting (you know who he is), Alastair Hunter, President of the UCU and Carly Doyle, Student Organiser with the NUT. Earlier that day a motion had passed on conference floor about backing the call for a fairer funding system for HE in the year ahead and opposing the cuts and closures. We were also joined by two UCU members who were on strike from Tower Hamlets College where the cuts recently has meant massive redundancies and course closures – their story was moving and it’s great to see UCU and their students’ union working together and, it seems, making a difference – drawing much needed attention to what is going on there and bringing these issues out from under the carpet where college principles and vice-chancellors want them to be swept. They are still on strike there and we wish them all the best in solidarity. Their facebook group is here.

The fringe went really well, in particular there was a warm reception to the Blueprint from NUT and UCU which is encouraging – the debate went well and it is clear that NUS is starting to build a coalition for action on the funding our future campaign. Just as with NUS, there were many people who disagreed fundamentally with our approach, feeling that it must be a campaign for free education or nothing, but that was by no means the prevailing attitude. There really was an atmosphere of enthusiasm for NUS’ work – indeed when you start seeing such positive media coverage such as this, you can really see how NUS had made an impact, it’s genuinly exciting.

2. CALL Fringe

A really interesting fringe the next day which Wes was speaking at and another area where NUS is leading the way in building momentum and collective action with the Campaign Alliance for Lifelong Learning. I could write for ages about how important this campaign is, but instead I want you to watch this video – it says it all better than I can:

3. Meeting the NUT

This was my first engagement as NUS NUT Scholarship holder – and we’ve got off to a great start. I sat down with the General Secretary, Christine Blower and other members of the national organising team. We discussed plans for the year and we are due to meet soon for the official NUS NUT Liaison committee. In the meantime I am starting work on the teaching students campaign that I intend to roll out later this term. First of all I am looking for Unions with existing relationships with the teaching students or education depatment who would be willing to work with me to survey a decent sample of students to find out what their issues are, what their experience is/was like and what they want to see their union/NUS/NUT working for them on to improve their experience/sort out major problems. This will inform where we go next with the campaign. I am also interested in hearing from Unions who already have established working relationships with teaching students, whether that be an NUT teaching students society or some campaigns that education officer have run in the past. My longer aim is produce materials to help officers in member unions better engage their teaching students and highlight issues that they need their unions to be fighting for on their behalf. So if any of that rings a bell with you – get in touch and be part of our Teaching Student Campaign – e-mail me on or leave a comment below.

One last video I really recommend you watch – these are the winners of the TUC 60 second challenge, all aimed at getting young people involved in trades unions – there’s some really good ones in here, watch:

(My favourites are the Dalek one and the Obama one)


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Sept 09 – Town Takeovers kick off

Posted by Tobin Webb on September 25, 2009

students are taking meeting at a time

students are taking meeting at a time

That strange month of September is upon us again…summer is fading and the nerves of a new term ahead are kicking in…and what a busy term its going to be for NUS. Funding our Future Campaign is chock-a-block, first the finges as TUC, Lib Dem, Labour and Conservative part conferences, then the freshers fairs up and down the country before October sees its first town takeovers in Liverpool and Bristol.

I attended the national training event for officers and local campaign organisers, and will be playing a big role in organising the Bristol Town Takeover – so watch this space for more info on that. The TT plan is to take the debate about higher education funding out to the public – if the politicians in westminster are refusing to engage, we need to put the pressure on in their constituencies and make HE funding an issue in the spotlight again.

In Bristol we have a number of marginal seats up for election including Bristol West, where the Lib Dem spokesman for Higher Education,  Stephen Williams took the seat at the last election after students rebelled against the incument MP for abstaining on the vote for top-up fees in 2004. Since we’ve seen Lib Dem policy wavering on HE funding, just this week at their party conference, I feel Bristol’s TT will be an interesting one to watch as we have the opportunity to have some real influence on a major political party. But it’s not just the Lib Dems – with the general election coming up, hopefully this action from NUS will make the candidates from all parties in seats like Bristol West put student issues on their agenda and, if we are successful, make commitments and promises on HE funding and take the student vote seriously.

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