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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 December 2009

Uniting to stop cuts at Sussex

Sussex university students demonstrate, photo Socialist Students

Sussex university students demonstrate, photo Socialist Students   (Click to enlarge)

An emergency senate meeting on 3 December, called by Sussex University management to discuss savage cuts, was picketed by over 400 students. Management plan to cut 115 jobs and close vital campus services used by students at both Sussex and Brighton universities, such as subsidised child day care and the Unisex centre.

Sussex University Socialist Students

At the mass protest, the UCU lecturers' union warned that it will ballot its members for strike action. Students and staff have set up a united Stop the Cuts campaign which has been successful in mobilising large protests over the last few weeks.

Students crowded outside the meeting building's entrance after marching through the university campus displaying banners from every academic school affected. Those inside the senate heard the chants outside: "no ifs, no buts, no education cuts", "if you cut our education, we'll go into occupation" and "Michael Farthing Sussex VC, you're the only redundancy we want to see!"

Students are asking why low paid staff have to lose their jobs while vice-chancellor Farthing 'earns' £227,000 a year. The crowd heard speeches from campus trade unions, the student union and students.

Claire Laker-Mansfield from Socialist Students and Youth Fight for Jobs explained that students across the country were watching what was happening at Sussex and that the outcome of this struggle could decide whether there will be a mass fight back against cuts in universities across Britain.

Sympathetic staff

Sussex university students demonstrate, photo Socialist Students

Sussex university students demonstrate, photo Socialist Students   (Click to enlarge)

As the senate meeting began security staff were unable to stop students as they rushed into the building. Some security staff shook hands with students as they entered the building. Chanting continued inside as students filled the staircase up to the meeting. Sympathetic catering staff in the café below waved to students. After half an hour police arrived after being called by management, and students took the decision to leave.

More campus protests are planned and there is widespread support for the idea of co-ordinated student action in the form of walk outs and occupations alongside any industrial action by staff in the new term.

The Stop the Cuts campaign held a public rally at the university on Friday 4 December with speakers from the campus trade unions and council bin workers who were successful in a recent strike.

Socialist Students activists and Socialist Party members who work at the university are playing a leading role in the campaign. As well as organising students we have raised the need for co-ordinated industrial action by all sections of staff and all campus trade unions, linking up with struggles against job losses across Brighton. At Brighton University, the Socialist Students society has begun a campaign to fight the closure of the nursery and Unisex, which will link up with Stop the Cuts at Sussex.

Opposing Brighton job cuts

Brighton, Hove and District Trades Council and Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) have called a joint meeting in Brighton and Hove, taking place on Wednesday 9 December at the Phoenix Community Centre, in response to the recent avalanche of job cuts in the city.

More than a dozen First Quench stores are closing this month, a Borders bookshop is being shut, and the partly government-owned bank LloydsTSB is closing a major call centre with the loss of nearly 500 jobs on top of 220 job losses at another site in the city a few weeks ago.

Public sector workers are already getting organised in the city to resist 115 job cuts at Sussex University and 150 local government job cuts. The trades council and YFJ are striving to draw the largely young and unorganised workers in the private sector into the struggle to defend jobs.

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