The Provost Missed His Pay-Day Party. Nobody cried.

We had a great time at the protest outside Provost Michael Arthur’s office today. It was a no-show for poor old Provost, however, even though we’d brought him cake!

(…seriously though, we despise the Provost)

Joining this protest against inequality at UCL were members form the UCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign and UCL UCU, who spoke about how cleaners are organising a campaign for better pay and conditions and how the top UCL fat cats are getting rich from cutting university workers’ pensions.

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The protest took place outside the Provost’s Office and Jeremy Bentham’s creepy cabinet.
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We handed out lots of flyers!

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The banner of UCL UNISON, the trade union of the Justice for Cleaners Campaign.
The banner of UCL UNISON, the trade union of the Justice for Cleaners Campaign.

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One of the speakers at the protest from UCL UCU.
One of the speakers at the protest from UCL UCU.
Cake to commemorate that Provost earns as much in 19 days as a cleaner earns in a year.
Cake to commemorate that Provost earns as much in 19 days as a cleaner earns in a year.
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Ready for Provost’s Pay-Day Party! (Chants and more)

Who’s been a good Provost, then? xD

Tomorrow UCL Provost Michael Arthur will have earned as much in 2015 as an out-sourced cleaner here earns in an entire year, about £16,000. In order to commemorate this momentous achievement we’re organising a party for him and Everybody is invited! Find all the details here.

A banner from the UCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign outside SOAS, where cleaners organised themselves, demanded and won vastly improved wages and conditions. April 2014.
A banner from the UCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign outside SOAS, where cleaners organised themselves, demanded and won vastly improved wages and conditions. April 2014.

There will be party hats and cake for those attend the party! We hope that Mr Arthur will join us so that we can ask him how he sleeps at night and why he thinks the migrant workers who clean his office should earn little more then a living wage and not enjoy the same privileges as himself the other male, white fat cat bosses.

Spend the money on cleaners' wages, no the bosses!
Spend the money on cleaners’ wages, no the bosses!

We should, of course prepare to shout a few chants in case he decides to stay in his office and sulk. Here’s a bit of inspiration:

“Michael Arthur [or Provost, Provost] we’ve got beef!
Pay your staff, don’t be a thief!”

“UCL, shame on you!
Pay your cleaners what they’re due!”

“Michael Arthur, you old toad,
Pay your workers what they’re owed!”

“UCL, hey hey,
Wage gaps are not OK!”

and finally…

“UCL, there’s a solution;
Better income distribution!!”

Tomorrow’s protest will not only be about the unjust pay gaps between cleaners and the 1% of UCL, but also to highlight the gender and racial pay gaps at our university and to demand that workers are given a larger say over how wages are distributed. Read our demands here.

See you tomorrow, Michael Arthur!!

UCL Left Forum: Beyond Divestment? Climate Change and Class Struggle

On Monday 26 January UCL Defend Education will be hosting this term’s first Left Forum meeting.

Discussing how class struggle can help us save the environment will be GUIN CARTER (UCL Fossil Free) and STUART JORDAN (Workers’ Climate Action) – and there will be plenty of time for open debate.

system changeClimate change is the greatest single threat facing humanity. What can we do to tackle it?

The Fossil Free divestment campaign at UCL and in other institutions is gaining ground, but it is just the beginning – we know we’ll have to go much further to avert catastrophe. But what strategies and what forces within society are capable of forcing the immense changes we need? Are workers employed by environmentally destructive industries part of the problem, or are they actually the key to a solution? Can capitalism ever be made environmentally sustainable?

We will discuss the links between environmentalist, class struggle and anticapitalist politics, and ask whether we can build a global movement out of examples such as the Vestas wind turbine factory occupation in 2009 and the “green bans” enforced by Australian builders in the 1970s.

A photo from the Australian Green Bans trade union campaign in the 1970s.
A photo from the Australian Green Bans trade union campaign in the 1970s.

We will be meeting in Physics A1/3 and directions can be found here.

Picture from a Fossil Free UK protest in Oxford.
Picture from a Fossil Free UK protest in Oxford.

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Fighting for Liberation Officers – the UCLU General Assembly 20th January

On January 20 we will be back in Logan Hall debating what Sabbatical Officer roles should represent you next year.

Members of UCL Defend Education have put forward Proposal 5, which proposes four full-time Liberation officers, including a new LGBT+ and Disabled Students’ Officer, whilst maintaining post-graduate, activities and education support. Read the full motion here and the full details for the meeting on our event page here.

This is also an action in opposition to a proposal that would have UCLU reduce its total number of full-time officers to 7, without adding any officers to fight for the rights of liberation groups.

A photo from the last General Assembly, December 2014. Join the January Assembly to help vote for more liberation officers at UCLU!
A photo from the last General Assembly, December 2014. Join the January Assembly to help vote for more liberation officers at UCLU!

All you need to vote is your UCLU ID, so don’t forget it and don’t miss out on having your say! Registration opens earlier at 5.30pm and there are fewer motions, so is expected to be a relatively short assembly.

If it passes, our proposal will add a full-time LGBT+ Officer and a full-time Disabled students’ Officer – a progressive step that will once again put UCLU on the leading edge in terms of representational student unions. It will ensure that UCLU continues to operate as representative, campaigning and inherently political organisations that can improve conditions for students at UCL.

At at time when Disabled Students' Allowance is being cut, it is more important to have a full-time Disable Students' Officer now than ever!
At at time when Disabled Students’ Allowance is being cut, it is more important to have a full-time Disable Students’ Officer now than ever!

Having four Sabbatical Officers that work specifically on liberation issues is the next logical step in the policy of liberation that was initiated at UCLU by the creation of the full-time Women’s officer and BME students officer two years ago. With four liberaion sabbs UCLU can meet the needs of its members students in a more comprehensive way than before, and provide a role model for union around the country

This proposal is backed by UCLU Unicef Society, Fossil Free UCL, UCLU Green Party Society, UCLU Vegetarian Society and UCLU Socialist Society. If you wish to offer your societies support for this motion please let us know.

This General Assembly will also be voting on a resolution to strengthen UCLU’s stance against UCL’s rent hikes – so that’s yet another reason to join the assembly!

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Provost’s Pay-Day – Protesting Inequality at UCL!

On Monday January 19th, UCL Provost Michael Arthur will have earned in 19 day what the lowest paid full-time workers at UCL – outsourced cleaners – earn in a year. Arthur earns almost 20 times as much in a year as the people who clean his office and private kitchen.

We are going to protest this grotesque inequality by holding “a party” (see link) outside the Provost’s office in the Main Wilkins building at UCL at 1pm on Monday. Everybody is invited!

Provost Michael Arthur is one of the wealthiest men on campus. He earns 20 times as much as a cleaner ...wonder who works the hardest?
Fat cat Provost Michael Arthur is one of the wealthiest men on campus. He earns 20 times as much as a cleaner and has his home paid for by the uni …wonder who works the hardest?

At a time when our lecturers’ pensions are under threat, when many of the lowest paid workers are on outsourced contracts that force them into in appalling working conditions with few working rights, it is outrageous that the university can pretend that there’s not enough money for everybody. Michael Arthur alone in senior management gets paid £360,000+ per year

Beyond the Provost, there are 113 members of UCL staff who every year are paid more than 10 times the annual wages of a cleaner. All together they earn a combined £21.5m.

At other campuses across the country, students have also been taking action against unequal pay,

The salaries of  those at UCL who are paid more then 10 times as much as an out-sourced cleaner. 114 out of 11,000 employees, these are literally the people who constitute "the 1%" of UCL!
The salaries of those at UCL who are paid more then 10 times as much as an out-sourced cleaner. 114 out of 11,000 employees, these are literally the people who constitute “the 1%” of UCL!

To counter the growing inequality that is making UCL extremely wealthy at the expense of staff and students our demands are:

1. A 5:1 pay ratio at all universities, colleges and schools, with all in-house and outsourced workers paid at least the Living Wage

2. Action to close the gender and racial pay gaps. Low pay at our university disproportionately affects women and migrant workers

3. Democratic structures which put workers, students and local communities in control of our universities, colleges and schools, including on issues such as pay.

Come along and show the Provost that we won’t stand for this absurd inequality of pay.

Our staff make our education possible, while management pay themselves absurdly high figures to do nothing but wreck it. Pay them decent wages with decent conditions!

UCL Halls are Too Damn Expensive

For most, living in halls isn’t exactly luxurious but we put up with it. Most students experience any number of ‘horror stories’ during their time in student accommodation. Certainly, after only a couple of months at UCL, the newest batch of freshers already have enough to last them a year.

Max Rayne House at UCL
Max Rayne House at UCL, A.K.A, “Max Payne House”

Cockroaches!

If you live in Max Rayne you will now likely be intimately familiar with the cockroaches. Students are finding them across the building; in their kitchens and even in their bedrooms. Does Max Rayne somehow attract unhygienic students or are UCL ignoring what must be an infestation?

UCL's accommodation slogan. The "affordable" bit is, essentially, a lie.
UCL’s accommodation slogan. The “affordable” bit is, essentially, a lie.

Fire!

For other unlucky students, attempting to cook for the first time after arriving ended with the arrival of two fire engines. Understandable, perhaps, if they had burnt their cooking, but not so much when all they did was turn on the ovens. Within minutes the kitchen was filled with smoke due to the incredibly poor condition of these ovens. There are plenty of other stories, too. From toilets being out of use for the first two weeks upon arrival, to a windowsill that is held together with tape and numerous bedroom windows that aren’t even sealed properly.

Water?

There was also the infamous 48 hours during which Ifor Evans and Max Rayne were without hot water and heating after a fuse was blown. At least the students were contacted by management about it… once the problem had been fixed. Fortunately, at the start of term, a few lucky students were able to put off the halls ‘experience’ for about a week as building work had not been completed in their accommodation when they arrived.

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The rent is…

However, if most students, past and present, have had some kind of ‘horror’ experience during their time in halls, why bother writing about them? The answer is simple: the rent is too high. UCL runs some of the most expensive student accommodation in the country and that would be somewhat justifiable if it ran some of the best student accommodation in the country, but it doesn’t. Excluding the ‘horror’ events, the basic standard of student accommodation does not correspond to the price that we are paying. When UCL charge extortionate rents and don’t invest it back into the accommodation (or at least charge lower rents), the students have to put their foot down and do something about it.

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The Truth about UCL Qatar!

Human Rights Abuses how Why We are Campaigning to Stop Them

UCL Campus was established in 2012 and offers various masters and research programs. You must, however, be aware of the terrifying work conditions and more than a thousand workers that died during the building work for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

UCL Qatar
UCL Qatar

This not exclusive to the World Cup, Qatar is know for the vile Kafala system that affects migrant workers (94% of the work-force in Qatar). These workers enter the country through a sponsorship (kafala) system where their bosses are their sponsors. That results many times in the confiscation of their passports by the bosses. Besides, most workers are paid about $1 per hour and most of their first salaries goes towards the plane/boat ticket they took to get to Qatar. Without a passport or money and trapped by the kafala system that states that they need permission from their bosses to move jobs, workers find themselves imprisoned. Workers are also barely allowed to organize to fight for a better life. Trade
unions in Qatar have to be linked to a national state-supervisioned union, and strikes can only happen
after governemntal approval.

LGBT+ Rights Abuses

LGBT+ rights in Qatar are not great either. Currently transgender people do not have the right to challenge their legal gender, male homosexuality is considered a crime and lesbians can also be punished for violating “morality laws”. It is repulsive that UCL, proud to be one of the first university in the UK founded on humanist grounds, have not reacted to those practices in Qatar.

At UCL, 2 December 2014. Omar Raii introducing Shreya Paudel.
At UCL, 2 December 2014. Omar Raii introducing Shreya Paudel at our meeting asking “is UCL complicit in modern-day slavary?”.

What we can do:

We should stand up to defend the rights of our fellow students and workers in UCLQ. Workers should have a decent wage, an independent union and similar work conditions to the workers in the London campus; students should organize in a student union; and LGBT+ students and staff should be protected
from discrimination of any kind.

Last term we organised a meeting together with the University and Colleges Union (UCU) at UCL, asking “Is UCL Complicit in Modern-Day Slavery?”. We had three speakers, including Shreya Paudel – the NUS International Students’ Officer, whose uncle was kidnapped while investigating workers’ rights violations in Qatar – as well as Stephen Russell from the and Alison McGovern MP, the Shadow Children’s Minister.

This term we will be stepping up our campaign to expose and shame the UCL bosses for their compliance with the Qatari Government’s abuses of human rights together with UCLU Amnesty International Society.