EAN CONFERENCE shows growing mood for a fight back
November 3, 2010 Leave a comment
More than 450 students, lecturers, and education workers participated in the Education Activist Network Conference last Sunday, October 31st. The spirit of the conference was electric and displayed the growing mood to fight back against the attacks on further, adult and higher education.
The day kicked off with speeches from UCU President Alan Whitaker, KCLSU President Ryan Wain as well as NUS VP Higher Education, Usman Ali. Combined with Jim Wolfreys, President of King’s College UCU, which had taken successful strike action earlier this year, and Marieke Mueller from the ‘We support our teachers’ campaign, the opening plenary reflected what kind of a movement we need in order to defend and fight for another vision of education.
The lunchtime plenary ‘Austerity and Resistance’ in Europe saw a packed Lucas Hall draw more and more people in. An RMT speaker kicked off the session with a speech which drew the parallels between the tube workers’ fight and the one we face in education. Costas Todoulos (Athens, Greece), Kathy Litschauer (Vienna, Austria) and Julien Sergère (Paris, France) spoke about their experiences of occupying universities, building mass movements and of how students and workers can unite in action. All of them stressed that the Education Activist Network is the kind of tool to co-ordinate mass action that we need to develop if we want to defeat the cuts in education.
At the final rally, ‘Where next for the movement?’ participants voted on a motion outlinging the priorities of the Network, moved by Mark Bergfeld from the NUS NEC. Amendments and contributions from the floor showed the diversity and need for a network which can co-ordinate and facilitate the different initiatives in the period ahead. More than 200 participants elected a broad steering committee of 14 students and 10 university staff.
The conference finished with standing ovations and a collection of £275 for striking fire fighters, one of whom who addressed the conference. The hall broke into spontaneous chants of, ‘Students and workers – Unite and Fight!’ The conference was a powerful indication of the breadth of a movement which is starting to grow in all parts of the country and across Europe. A constant theme of the day was that their side is weak – and that it is time for our side to be strong.
From this conference the following action points were resolved:
- BIULD FOR MAXMUM TURN OUT ON THE NATIONAL UCU/NUS DEMONSTRATION ON 10 NOVEMBER.
- TO FIGHT FOR AN ALTERNATIVE TO AUSTERITY AND A DIFFERENT VISION OF EDUCATION – INCLUDING WRITING A MANIFESTO FOR EDUCATION
- MOBILISE FOR A DAY OF ACTION IN DEFENCE OF EDUCATION ON 24 NOVEMBER – WHEN PARLIAMENT VOTES ON INCREASING FEES – INCLUDING MASS WALK OUTS AND SUPPORT FOR THE UCU LOBBY OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT
- ORGANISE EAN CO-ORDINATION MEETINGS TO BUILD FOR THE 24TH NOV AND PLAN NEXT STEPS AFTER THE 10TH NOV. HOLD THREE REGIONAL CONFERENCES IN FEBRUARY/MARCH 2011 TO LAUNCH AN ALTERNATIVE MANIFESTO FOR EDUCATION AND FURTHER RESISTANCE.
- PRODUCE A BULLETIN, GENERALISE FROM LOCAL STRUGGLES.
- SUPPORT, ORGANISE AND BUILD STRIKES AND OCCUPATIONS IN DEFENCE OF EDUCATION AND BUILD SOLIDARITY WITH OTHER WORKERS FIGHTING THE ATTACKS. TO INCLUE RAISING SOLIDARITY FOR THE FIREFIGHTERS ON 5TH NOV, MOBILISING FOR THE TUC DEMONSTRATION IN SPRING AND ADDING OUR NAME TO THE ORGANISATIONS AND UNIONS CALLING FOR A GENERAL STRIKE
- SUPPORT THE FREE EDUCATION BLOC AND FEEDER MARCH LEAVING FROM ULU @ 11 A.M. ON 10TH NOV AND SEND DELEGATES TO PRESS CONFERENCE FROM 9 A.M.
We thank everyone moving motions, amendments and standing for Steering Committee. We thank all those people who spoke at the conference and want to see the network flourish. Full text of statement of intent and amendments to go up shortly.
The following students were elected to the Steering Committee
Alon Aviram –Sussex Stop the Cuts
Mark Bergfeld – NUS NEC
Nathan Bolton –Essex Uni
Max Brophy –Philosophy student, Sheffield Uni
Jon Dodds –Defend Soutbank, Defend Education
Sarah Gibbons –Glasgow Met College, NUS Scotland NEC
Samir Karnik Hinks –Bury College student
Michael Chessum –Education & Campaigns Officer UCL/ NCACF
Ashok Kumar -LSE Education Officer
Marieke Mueller –KCL We Support Our Teachers Campagin
Philip Neal –Glasgow Uni Anti Cuts Action Network/SWSS
Sean Rillo Raczka Birkbeck SU and NUS NEC (mature students rep)
Kanja Ibrahim Sesay –NUS Black Students Officer
Sky Yarlett – Westminster University, LGBT NUS Campaign
And the following staff:
Tahera Aziz LSBU UCU
Andy Cunningham Admin Worker at Manchester Metropolitan University
Richard McEwan Tower Hamlets College UCU joint branch sec
Jackie Mitchell UEL
Mike Neary Lincoln University UCU
Regine Pilling Westminster Kingsway & UCU Left young member coordinator
Robinson leading activist of Living Wage Campaign
Jelena Timotijevic UCU officer Brighton University
Max Watson Branch Chair of London Metropolitan University UNISON
Jim Wolfreys President KCL UCU, UCU NEC
We will be in touch shortly about the first EAN steering committee