Socialist Students is appalled at Leeds University management's plans to change the university's charter to worsen protections for staff. These include creating a catch-all term to dismiss staff, the removal of an independent legally qualified chair for most dismissal appeals and the removal of a medically qualified chair for panels deciding upon ill health dismissals. This has quite rightly being dubbed a 'sackers' charter' by UCU lecturers' union.
Socialist Students fully supports UCU members in taking strike action against such attacks and we will be joining them on picket lines when they walk out on 11-13 October. We believe our student union should be taking a stand against the sackers' charter and support staff and the strike action by UCU. Socialist Students will be campaigning for them to do this.
While such action will disrupt lectures and other academic activity, we feel this is a minor price to pay compared to what could happen as a result of the charter being adopted. Dismissal of staff who fall foul of 'third party pressure' (such as government agencies or corporations unhappy about the conclusions of academic research) or a 'conflict of interest' (such as whistle-blowers making the public aware of wider concerns) would disrupt our studies far more.
This should not be seen as an isolated issue, but part of a wider series of attacks on higher education, through funding cuts, the introduction of the so-called 'teaching excellence framework' and ever-increasing tuition fees and student debt. We believe a mass campaign opposing these attacks needs to be built which rallies around the demands for free education, raised in the recent general election campaign by Jeremy Corbyn.