• Universal Free School Meals for all in Scotland
    Poverty and inequality were already at an unacceptably high level in Scotland well before the Coronavirus pandemic struck, and we have grave concerns that such socio-economic disadvantage has only intensified, especially for children and women. The Scottish Government’s commitment to significantly reduce Child Poverty by 2030, with a view to ultimately eradicating it, and the creation of the new Scottish Child Payment Benefit is welcomed by the STUC Women’s Committee. Similarly, we welcome the Deputy First Minister’s pledge to expand free school meals provision to all Primary school pupils if the SNP retain power at the 2021 Scottish Parliament Elections. However, we strongly believe that further urgent action to mitigate child poverty is required immediately. The Scottish Government have the power and resources to go further in introducing progressive policies that can more strongly mitigate poverty and inequality and make life-changing differences to children and families now. Firm and decisive action on child poverty in Scotland cannot be further delayed. That is why the STUC Women’s Committee is calling on the Scottish Government to expand Universal Free School Meals to all children and young people, including those of Secondary school and Nursery age, with immediate effect. Moreover, we are calling on the Scottish Government to combat holiday hunger by ensuring that there are programmes and provisions in place in all of Scotland’s local authorities so that all children and young people have access to sufficient food during the school holidays. Our most vulnerable children, young people's right and access to a nutritious meal should not be determined by chance of the local authority they live in or based on the goodwill of community volunteers. We know that the roots of the poverty-related attainment gap stretch well beyond the school gates, but the significant role our educational institutions play in tackling poverty, challenging inequality, and helping to build a healthier, more inclusive society cannot be underestimated. We strongly believe that the introduction of Universal Free School Meals will not only help to combat hunger and poverty but will shatter the stigma and shame associated with the provision of meals on a means tested basis and will fuel young people’s ability to learn in the classroom. Neither empty tummies nor low self-esteem make for full days of learning in school. Furthermore, this progressive policy sends a clear and positive message to the rest of the devolved nations and beyond that we are serious about ending poverty in Scotland, and that we are genuinely committed to educational equity and to the wellbeing of our young people. Sign the petition today and email the First Minister showing your support.
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  • Protect Education
    The Scottish Government has prioritised school education during the pandemic; it has now opened schools for a full pupil return in P1-3 whilst continuing to lock down other parts of society and people’s lives outside of school. The EIS believes that teachers and other school staff should be vaccinated in phase 2 of the Scottish vaccination programme – the Scottish Government has the power to do this, and it will help to safely implement their policy of prioritising schools. Furthermore, the EIS believes that medical grade facemasks should be provided to teachers and other school staff to better protect against the coronavirus and its variants, especially by aerosol transmission. Finally, the EIS believes that ventilation in classrooms is of key importance and is concerned to hear of members’ poor experiences in this regard.
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  • QUB Student Union Workers Demand Respect
    In July 2020 QUB Management took the decision to remove dozens of workers in the Students' Union from the income supports provided by the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS). This decision was taken with next to no consultation and has left hardworking employees with no income. The decision from the university to end payments appears to us on the surface, to be premature and based solely on saving costs as the government required further employer contributions from the beginning of August. For many of us, this loss of income has had a substantial financial impact, leaving us unable to afford essentials such as food, housing, electricity and gas. Not all workers are students and are ineligible for student supports or for state benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance whilst still formally employed. Those who are full-time students are ineligible for any state support at present. Recently, the government has announced further plans to aid employers and workers in this time of economic uncertainty, particularly those affected by necessary closures and restrictions on operations to control the spread of COVID. The government has announced that there is no shortage to the funds available in order to secure ongoing employment for workers during the pandemic. Further, Queen's University has no shortage of funds to support their hardworking staff throughout a crisis. Without our efforts, the Speakeasy and other SU facilities would not run. We contribute so much to the student experience and in return, we are asking for the university to provide us with a basic income, give us some job & financial security and afford us the respect that we deserve.
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  • Reverse the cuts to union learning
    I saw first-hand the difference union learning made for hundreds of my workmates and friends. So when I heard the news that the government planned to cut the Union Learning Fund, I was devastated. I thought of everyone I’d supported as a union learning rep and what they would have missed out on without this programme. I thought of the workers getting our country through this crisis, who deserve an opportunity to access education and learn new skills in the workplace. It’s impossible to list all of the benefits of union learning I’ve seen, but I can honestly say it’s changed lives. Our training around mental health helped normalise talking about it at work. People who missed out at school learned English and maths in union learning courses, skills they’ll have for life. And those who came to learning centres and engaged in courses came back over and over again, earning apprenticeships and higher qualifications. And independent reviews have consistently found union learning to be effective and transformational for the workers who take part, their families, and communities. The government must reverse its decision immediately.
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  • Suspend all strike pay deductions
    This is important at a time when university staff have rallied and gone beyond their contractual duties and normal working hours to ensure that all essential work including teaching has continued whilst the University has taken measures to address the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several universities in the UK (including the University of St. Andrews, King’s College London, and Birkbeck) have already announced an amnesty on pay deductions in recognition of the exceptional demands on their staff. We ask that the University of Kent follow these examples by granting an amnesty on strike pay deductions given that exceptional demands on their staff are likely to be ongoing for some time and to ensure staff morale and goodwill at this time.
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  • University of Sheffield Students' Union Staff are #BetterThanZero
    There are currently hundreds of workers at the Students’ Union working in the bars, cafés, shops and kitchens on zero hour contracts, with no access to sick pay, being paid just the minimum wage. They are mostly students who must work to pay their rent and continue their studies. The combination of low pay, an insufficient student loan, and high rent forces casual workers to scrape by in poor quality housing. Being close to maxing out your overdraft is, for many, normal. Their work generates significant income for the Students' Union and is hugely important for the University's reputation. The improvements they are asking for would transform the lives of hundreds, and would cost less than the University's Vice Chancellor earns in a year. We call on the University of Sheffield Students' Union to do the right thing, and show their casual workers that they are valued, that their health and wellbeing matter – that they are #BetterThanZero.
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    Created by Unite at Sheffield SU
  • City of Edinburgh Council: Save Our Instrumental Music Service
    City of Edinburgh Council wants to make significant cuts to its instrumental music service. They are launching a “full consultation” on its future ahead of proposed cuts of £150,000 in 2021/22 and £350,000 in 2022/23. It's not right, and it’s not fair. Cutting Edinburgh’s instrumental music service means taking opportunity away from Edinburgh's children and young people. Over 40% of those from low-income families say music lessons are beyond their household budgets. Musicians' Union research shows that families with a total household income of less than £28,000 are half as likely to have a child learning an instrument as more affluent peers with a family income of £48,000 or more – despite similar levels of interest from both groups of children. Music should be available and attainable for all, whether they are the next Lewis Capaldi, Nicola Benedetti or Primal Scream, or they just want to try something new. There is plenty of evidence that shows the benefits of music beyond art for art’s sake, and its value to the UK economy (£5.2 billion). Music has been shown to boost attainment in schools, and positively impact a child’s cognitive abilities as well as social and emotional development. It’s also about who we are as a community. We want more, not less, diversity in the stories we tell and are told. We call on City of Edinburgh Council to let every child learn music.
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  • General Election to Elect Our Prime Minister
    Boris Johnson is a right wing symbol for attacks on the most vulnerable sections of our society. Unelected, with no mandate equates to a free hand in decimating the Rights of workers, the NHS, the Climate. All our communities are in danger from this.
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    Created by John Blakemore