We are proud to announce that after lengthy discussion and negotiation with the University, we have reached agreement on several of our demands, and will be ending the Slate occupation.
The University have fully agreed to our third demand: to legally scrap the injunction and to apologise for their handling of the events of December 3rd. This is a huge victory for so many of us who were directly and deeply affected by these events, as well as for the protection of the right to protest for all students at Warwick both now and in the future.
With regard to Warwick Anti-Casualisation’s demands for fair teaching conditions, the University have committed to revising the recognition agreement in place with the Warwick University and College Union (UCU) branch in order to fully include hourly-paid teachers in the remit of UCU’s formal negotiation and collective bargaining processes. The University will do so in collaboration with campus unions. This could set a precedent for casualised workers across the sector, and it has been recognised by Warwick Anti-Casualisation as a very positive first victory for hourly paid tutors at Warwick, as it greatly strengthens their capacity to organise collectively and advance their demands through formal collective bargaining channels. The University have also committed to a start date in January 2017 for discussions with Warwick Anti-Casualisation, the SU, UCU and University senior management about the six demands raised by Warwick Anti-Casualisation. Whilst this is only the start of a process, it is nonetheless a very concrete and positive step forward in the fight to win proper employment rights and better working conditions for all hourly paid tutors at Warwick.
Finally, the University has publicly acknowledged that the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is fundamentally flawed, in that it will not in fact measure ‘teaching excellence’, and that the government is using the threat of caps on international students to push institutions into opting into the TEF. The Vice-Chancellor has also highlighted that the Higher Education & Research Bill poses huge threats to the sector which need challenging, and has committed to publishing and sending out a press release detailing the University’s concerns as well as the concerns already expressed by the student and staff community at Warwick. Whilst it is disheartening that the University will not be changing their decision to opt into TEF, it is significant that the occupation was able to force the institution to be more transparent about the reasoning behind their decisions, as well as to openly voice their criticisms of this government’s visions for higher education.
We believe these achievements demonstrate the legitimacy, strength and impact of disruptive direct action tactics in shifting the balance of power and winning real material gains, especially when repressive measures seek to undermine the right to protest and invalidate the political and historical necessity of such tactics.
However, the struggle is far from over. We recognise that there is still so much more that must be done on both local and national levels to challenge the damaging direction in which higher education is being pushed, and to fight for our vision of an education system which is free, democratic and accessible to all.
It goes without saying that we will continue to defend the right to protest, to stand alongside academic staff in pushing for fair working conditions, and to fight by any means necessary against the government’s disastrous higher education reforms.
The last two weeks have been inspiring, empowering, and of great political significance on both the local and national level. Together, we have created and sustained a vibrant and welcoming space which has been shared by hundreds of students and staff, and which has facilitated truly collaborative political education, as well as successfully forcing senior management to concede on some crucial issues. We have received overwhelming support and solidarity from students, staff and education activists from across the country, and we look forward to maintaining and developing these links further.
Though this occupation was just one pocket of resistance, and though not all the demands were met in full, there is so much to take away from the experience; to cultivate, to build upon, and to channel into further action in the future. We warmly welcome anyone who wishes to join us in that endeavour.
VICTORY TO THE OCCUPATION!
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!