Tuesday, 26 April 2011

We are London Met - Education not Privatisation!

On Friday 15th April I chaired an emergency joint union meeting of approx 200 support staff, academics and students at London Met, to agree to a robust defense of teaching humanities and to resist the scandalous closure of two-thirds of our courses, agreed the day before.

Philosophy, History, Performing Arts and Caribbean Studies are all to go, alongside hundreds of others. The blunt message is: ‘these courses are not for the likes of you, study 'vocational' courses instead’.

We agreed a statement castigating the plans and re-launched the 'Save London Met Uni' joint union website, as a hub for all our campaigning against this new round of cuts.

The mood is of shock and anger - staff and students showed a determination to resist these cuts at our hastily-called union meeting. New petitions blogs and facebook groups are already up and running, and all three unions are committed to resist these cuts and support the campaign.

When staff see their unions campaigning to defend jobs and education, they quickly join up - three new members joined UNISON immediately after our meeting. And it's not just our jobs we're defending but the principle of providing educational opportunities for all. As one of our Librarians put it, these cuts will mean: "It will not be the University I wanted to work for anymore."

An event already in the pipeline, called 'We Are London Met - Education not Privatisation', will now have additional emphasis on these new cuts to Humanities - and focus on our defense of publicly funded education.

London Met is back in the eye of the storm again. We're used to ongoing battles, but this is about the shape of things to come across the country: other campaigns to save Philosophy (eg at Greenwich) are already networking with London Met's.

Industrial action is inevitable - we're already in dispute over compulsory redundancies before these cuts were announced. We're well placed for it, though, as we have a strong tradition of solidarity between UNISON, UCU and a blossoming student activist base in the Met Student Union.

So, come to London Met on 7th May and take part in our event - it'll be a launch pad for our new campaign to save the soul of London Met, an inclusive space for activists to come together to discuss the vision of what we wish to see at university; a place for all to discuss how to resist the cuts effectively.

We've a great line up of speakers, Spanish speaking translations, a film showing, and there are practical sessions and workshops to ensure it will not only be a good networking opprtuinity and rallying point, but - more importantly - an active, organising event to prepare our next steps
(and by the way it’s not ‘owned’ by any one of the various anti-cuts groups: it’s 100 percent non-sectarian and open to all who support our cause).

Finally, we'll be celebrating a recent union victory too - winning a commitment to the London Living Wage at London Met - so come down early and stay late. We've booked the Rocket Bar all night and music will be provided by peeps from the student union. See you there?

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