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Left moves by lecturers' union
NATFHE, the lecturers' union, passed a number of Left-wing resolutions at their annual conference in Blackpool.
Clive Dunkley, NATFHE Wales Region
Conference affirmed support for the firefighters, with ex-president Tina Downes paying tribute to the FBU's stand against the likes of Prescott, who effectively want to ban public sector strikes and impose settlements.
Conference also passed an emergency motion urging NATFHE members to support campaigns and activities to fight racism and discrimination and agreed to mobilise for a national demonstration against the BNP in Burnley in May 2004.
Andrew Price, NEC and Socialist Party member, moved the composite emergency motion on the invasion of Iraq, condemning Bush and Blair's motives and explaining the real reasons for the invasion: "In the interests of imperialism, notably over oil."
Andrew was continuously interrupted by clapping from delegates and his praise for trade union members and students who walked out on the first day of war was particularly well-received.
Other motions were passed in support of union members who are victimised as a result of defending any refugee or any student victimised or threatened with deportation. Craig Lewis, delegate from Wales, condemned the press for demonising asylum seekers.
The main issues facing the union and lecturers in further education in the coming year will be the campaign for pay parity with school teachers by 2004.
Conference supported a motion from Inner London and the West Midlands calling for "substantial strike action" should parity with school teachers not be a reality by September 2004 in England.
In Wales pay negotiations are now separate from England. The Welsh region successfully carried a motion in the FE sector conference which endorsed an action plan.
Should talks break down and three days of strike action in September do not persuade the Welsh employers to meet our claim for parity, action will be quickly escalated to indefinite strikes, which the conference agreed to support with £50 per day sustentation [strike allowance].
In the higher education sector conference the recent government white paper was condemned. These plans will actually increase student debt and restrict access to higher education.
Top-up fees were forcefully opposed and the conference re-affirmed their total opposition to charging students any fees and demanded the restoration of full maintenance grants.
South West and Northern region's motion was agreed, calling for a vigorous campaign to fight the proposals in the white paper, inviting the participation of the NUS, other trade unions, MPs and local councillors.
The next twelve months will be crucial in further and higher education, in the fight for decent pay and conditions for staff and a decent education for students.
In the conference hall, delegates and parts of the leadership showed a willingness to fight for the union's members. This must be turned into effective action.
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