QUB Student’s Union has been petitioned to put a referendum to students next week, after Socialist party members submitted the necessary number of signatures required to demand a referendum of the student body.
The strike action on 13 March aims to protest the Stormont House Agreement signed in December 2014. It will see the education sector in Northern Ireland cut by at least 10.8%. Currently, Queen’s has estimated a cut of 1,100 admissions to the University if these cuts proceed. Ulster University plans to cut 50 courses.
A strike would coincide with trade unions action, who have planned strike action on Friday 13th March, in protest of cuts to the public sector, which could see 20,000 jobs lost in the next year.
The referendum, which will go live to students on Thursday 26th February, will ask the following:
“Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union should strike on Friday 13th March to coincide with strike action planned by the trade union movement. This strike should be part of a sustained campaign against cuts to university funding and austerity, outlined in the Assembly Budget and Stormont House Agreement, and implemented by all the Assembly Executive parties. Agree? (Yes or No)”
QUB Socialist Party chairperson Eóin Dawson spoke to The Gown about the need for student impact for the campaign:
“Students striking sends a message. To trade unions, particularly the unions on site at QUB; students are sending a message that they support workers in their struggle for decent pay, pensions, terms and conditions. To the Assembly executive it sends the message that students will not stand idly by and allow them to cut the standard of education at QUB- public services which we all rely on or job opportunities in the public sector when we graduate.”
“The Students Union should be working tirelessly to promote students interests. The support for a yes vote from the unions Executive Management Committee is really important and should be welcomed by all students. Unfortunately it seems that student representatives, both at QUB and in the student movement in general, are reluctant to engage with the political issues which affect students.”
“Awareness is good, but simply being aware of cuts isn’t enough. We need to organise to defend ourselves from the onslaught of austerity from Stormont. Hopefully this referendum will mark the beginning of a shift in a more political direction at Queens where we can discuss the real issues affecting students and build a real opposition to austerity.”
The referendum, if resulting in a yes majority would see QUBSU take an official position of support for the strike and see student officers encourage students to march.
The referendum will be put to students on Thursday 26 March, on QOL.