Live updates on the ‘Industrial Action: Next Steps’ meeting organised by the Students’ Union
Hi everyone, Kirstie signing on! The meeting has just begun, and communities officer Jack Houghton is taking the lead.
He’s apologised for a lack of communication of the SU’s stance in regards to the strikes, and hopes to rectify that with this meeting.
He’s going through the timeline of what’s happened since the strike action was announced. He’s explained that senate voted to support the strikes, hence why they did, but now the focus is on students.
Jack has now passed over to Lisa, Head of Education: “our focus is always to support students”
She’s said that they will accept an emergency motion in senate to decide how the pot of money saved during the strikes can be spend (Jack explained earlier that this pot exists, it will be quantifiable and it will be go towards students, just not necessarily in the form of a refund”
She’s now talking about the recent SU survey asking students what they wanted the money to be spent on : “lots of students wanted refunds, but this came in lots of different forms – amazon vouchers, full refund of tuition fees, some just asked for a tenner…”
Campaigns Coordinator Polly has now taken the floor. She’s encouraging the now very large campaign group Take Action! to apply for funding and support through the SU.
“You can use all our fun things: placards, megaphones, all of this because you are an established campaign group”
Polly is now going through what the SU can’t recommend: witholding fees and occupying buildings. The SU’s advice service is now going to explain why this is.
Lisa’s added that one thing they can do to help is organise pre-meets before the open meetings with Nancy Rothwell (which are running up until 9th May).
One student, Beatrice, a member of Take Action, is lamenting the fact that the organisers of the open meetings make it as difficult as possible to find out where and when they are. The SU have said they find out only a week before the locations of the meetings, possibly to prevent protests and any harm coming to Nancy Rothwell.
Advice have now taken the floor. They’re suggesting making formal complaints to faculty, and are saying that all complaints are put on the record to a mass number to the same faculty will be noticed. They have said that they will help form the complaints if asked to.
Students are being advised on how they can use consumer rights laws to form a Breach of Contract claim: they are being told that any promises made during the application process, for example during interviews, count as part of the contract.
The university they say will refer to a clause in their contract that excludes them from liability. However, this is something that can be argued against, but Advice are saying that without a guarantee of success, there is the risk of huge cost implications. They can, though, still offer free support in building the case.
They’re now moving onto forms of action that can’t be recommended, namely occupation and witholding fees.
Occupation: there are clauses that the university can use against you to start disciplinary procedures if you occupy buildings.
Witholding fees: there is a £25 charge and it can affect progression and graduation.
They’re not telling people not to do it, but they’ve said they want to make people aware of the risks.
Staff are now handing out copies of the NUS’s official guidelines on consumer rights breaches.
The floor is now open for student questions.
Dorian Loetzer is apologising for the mixed messages from Take Action. He’s saying that they want to work towards finding a solution with the SU and has apologised for rude memes and other messages in the Facebook group.
Another person is asking: what are the specific stipulations regarding occupation of buildings?
Question from the same person: what do you mean by ‘progression’?
Staff: you can’t move up to the next year in your degree.
Staff: No, but it would affect 1st and 2nd years.
Campaigns Coordinator Polly is suggesting creating steps in their demands; for example starting by demanding a date to find out the amount of money in the savings pot.
Jack Houghton is suggesting going in gently first, and possibly not starting off with demands.
Olivia: do we know when that pot of money is going to be quantified?
Jack: no, they have no idea yet.
Olivia: but there are going to be potential strikes next year – will the drag it out until next year?
Polly: well maybe your first course of action is to ask for a cut off, as some of those affected will not be here if they leave it until next year.
Jack: in the meetings, everyone’s demanding compensation, but no one’s agreeing on how much, or in what form. There need to be more structure in your campaign group.
Felix: it’s annoying that their argument is that we’ve not given them a definite number, as if that’s our responsibility.
Advice: it’s likely going to be calculated on a case by case basis, as it affected all students differently.
Beatrice: some people don’t want money back as they think it’s taking it away from lecturers. We need to find a compromise between those who want their money back and those who don’t. Possibly by giving the money to a charity.
The meeting has now concluded.
So that’s that – Take Action are going to meet with the SU at a later date to work through everything discussed today. Keep checking The Mancunion website and social media pages for more updates!