Today, after two weeks, the occupation of the Slate building led by Warwick for Free Education comes to an end. The occupiers have won a number of impressive and very significant concessions from the University. As Warwick Anti-Casualisation, we have been humbled by the show of solidarity that the occupiers have extended to us by putting our demands for an end to casualisation of teaching staff at Warwick at the heart of their fight.
And this action has borne fruit. As a result of their protest, the occupiers have won a number of impressive concessions, some of which relate directly to our campaign. In particular, they have obtained a commitment from the University to work with the campus trade unions to revise the existing recognition agreement with the Warwick University and College Union (UCU) branch in order to fully include hourly-paid teachers in the remit of UCU’s formal negotiation and collective bargaining processes.
The significance of this win for the future of our campaign against casualisation at Warwick cannot be stressed enough. Achieving formal union recognition is an important step forward in our fight for fair working conditions for casualised teachers at Warwick, as it greatly strengthens our capacity to organise collectively with the protection of the union, and to advance our demands through both formal collective bargaining channels and through industrial action, if necessary.
The University has also committed to a start date in January 2017 for discussions with WAC, the SU and UCU over our six demands for fair teaching conditions at Warwick. Thanks to everyone who has supported us so far, this week we were able to submit a petition to the University with more than 1,100 signatures of support.
Clearly, this will only be the beginning of a long process of negotiation, and our campaign has only just begun. But as a result of these two wins, we are now in a much stronger position to carry on our fight in the new year to win proper employment rights and better working conditions for all hourly-paid teachers and casualised staff at Warwick.
We are grateful for the fantastic support that we have received from Warwick for Free Education, and to the students who have taken this risk to defend public higher education, the employment rights of staff and the right to freedom of protest on campus. We see this victory as a testament to what solidarity between students and workers can achieve. Together, we are stronger.
The full statement by Warwick for Free Education on the end of the Slate occupation can be read here.
The statement by Stuart Croft, University of Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor, on the University’s concessions to the occupiers can be read here.