WAC statement: the Slate occupation wins big concessions for hourly-paid teachers at Warwick

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.

In solidarity,

Warwick Anti-Casualisation

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


The Slate occupation: an open letter from Warwick UCU and Warwick Anti-Casualisation

The Warwick branch of the University and College Union (WUCU) and Warwick Anti-Casualization (WAC) have separately expressed their full support for the three demands made by those currently occupying The Slate. Today, when the occupation enters its second week, we wish to solidify this support in a joint statement.

After a week of occupation, events, talks, exchanges and interaction, we wish to affirm that student activism represents a reasoned response to the repeated failure of the democratic processes of our institution. The issues being highlighted – TEF, casualisation and the injunction against campus protest – affect and concern us all. Students have welcomed our members and engaged with us; their commitment and participation are reasons to strengthen our original messages.

It is clear to us that the students’ demands need addressing because they are absolutely vital to the wellbeing of all students and staff. The students have stood in solidarity with the staff we represent; truly, they are acting not as individuals but on behalf of the greater community. We cannot ignore them.

Many among us (staff, tutors and educators) have had the opportunity to take part in activities related to the occupation. We have been inspired by the ability, passion and dedication with which the occupiers have transformed the Slate into an open space, a space of dialogue, confrontation, collective enrichment and clarification for all involved. Far from being exclusionary, the occupation has been a way of opening up to the rest of the university community; to advance a creative and much-needed form of co-operative, horizontal and multidisciplinary education that our university often fails to offer. When students feel welcome, comfortable and empowered, their lives are enhanced and their academic performance improved. This benefits the whole university, particularly teachers.

We appreciate that management and security have so far maintained an amicable distance from the occupation, allowing the students to educate each other in this important space of protest and collective enrichment. That said, we are aware of how swiftly these conditions can change and the memory of December 3rd, 2014 is still vivid.

We are especially concerned that as soon as the campus empties for the holidays, management may change its approach and adopt a position in conflict with the wellbeing of those involved in the occupation, and with the open and constructive spirit of the space that it has generated.

Student welfare is of paramount importance in our profession; we take our duty of care and our pastoral obligations very seriously. Consequently, we will not keep silent if the students are threatened, harassed or subjected to any form of violence. We trust that management will be careful to avoid any situation that damages future relations between staff and students, or that contributes to harming the international reputation of the University of Warwick.

Please sign to add your support at bit.ly/supporttheslate

Statement of support for Warwick for Free Education occupation of The Slate building

As Warwick Anti-Casualisation, we extend our solidarity and support to Warwick For Free Education in their ongoing occupation protest of the new Slate conference facility on the University of Warwick’s campus. Whilst we were not involved in organising this action, we fully support its aims and are humbled by WFFE’s display of solidarity with our campaign.

The struggle against the marketisation of Higher Education is inherently linked to our fight against casualisation. The Teaching Excellence Framework will increase even more the pressure on casualised and hourly paid staff, worsen working conditions and pave the way for the complete marketisation of the sector.

From the academic Assembly to the local and national UCU to the local and national students’ unions, those who make higher education happen have declared their opposition to the Higher Education bill and the epidemic of casualization in the sector through every formal channel. But the concerns of the University community have fallen on deaf ears for too long, as University management proceeds with its plans of opting into the TEF despite widespread opposition, ignores calls to address the precarity of its casualised workforce and continues to curtail the right to protest on campus by upholding the injunction.

It is crucial that we stand up against the continuing marketisation of higher education, and insist that universities be characterised by accessibility and quality education for students, fair pay and conditions for staff, and a democratic ethos that safeguards the right to protest on campus.

Please support the occupation, sign and share our petition against casualisation at Warwick: http://bit.ly/6demands.

WAC participates in national UCU Anti-Casualisation day of action

On Thursday 24th November, we supported the national UCU Anti-Casualisation day of action with a creative stunt outside the library on Warwick campus, spreading awareness about the extent of casualisation at Warwick and gathering support for our ‘Six demands for fair teaching conditions‘ petition. It was great to engage with students and other members of staff, and to receive such overwhelming support for our demands!

WAC petition launched: ‘Six demands for fair teaching conditions’

Hourly paid teachers at the University of Warwick are underpaid, undervalued and work in unacceptable insecure conditions. We think it’s time for things to change!

That’s why today we are officially launching our petition to the University’s management with our six demands for fair teaching conditions at Warwick: http://bit.ly/6demands.

We demand stable contracts, equal employment rights and fair remuneration for all the work we do. Whether you are a tutor, student, member of staff or a supporter from outside the University, we urge you to sign the petition and share it around!