Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/396/4499
Socialist students spearheads unionisation campaign in Leicester
With the ending of both the grant and free education by successive Tory and Labour governments more students have to work to be able to afford to get through their degree. However few students informed about their rights at work.
Thomas Penman, Leicester Socialist Students
Having seen students being ripped off by employers in Leicester, Socialist Students members on the student council decided to push for a Know Your Rights At Work campaign and we got it.
The University of Leicester Student Union ran a Know Your Rights At Work Campaign with Amicus that made the link between having rights in the workplace and protecting them through membership of a trade union.
The event would not have happened at all if Socialist Student members on the Student Union Council hadnít worked for it. Once we had got the agreement that the campaign could go ahead it was Socialist Student members and local Amicus activists who did the actual work for it. Setting up displays, giving out leaflets and signing up members for Amicus.
It was a weeklong campaign and was mostly informational but the response we got off students was positive if sometimes a little surprising. Some students didn't know what a trade union was while others thought that only miners and teachers joined them! This shows the need for socialists and trade unionists to actually get out there and explain to young people what a trade union is and why they should join one.
We also got an agreement that the flyer we created, explaining why working students should join a trade union, will be sent to all the freshers starting in September and that Amicus can have a stall at Freshers Fair. Also all part time student workers in the students union will be given training on what a trade union is and the opportunity to join an appropriate one. It is our hope that trade union membership will become a normal part of working student life.
Socialist Student members plan to follow it up by pushing to deepen the links between the on-campus trade unions and the students union. Both students and workers face the same problems of cuts and closures and if we are to fight them we must make lasting links between trade unions and students unions on campuses, as only together will we be able to win the fight against the marketisation of education.
In The Socialist 9 June 2005: