NEW: Support Sussex Campaign Against Privatisation against protest ban & criminalisation

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Publicity for anti-victimisation campaign here: StopVictimisationFlyer 

These can also be picked up at UCU conference in Brighton next week. If you want us to send you some email info@defendtherighttprotest.org

Students and workers need your solidarity: Workers and students at the University of Sussex recently undertook a campaign to halt the management’s privatisation and outsourcing of 235 jobs on campus. Using direct action and a long lasting occupation of the university’s Bramber House Conference Centre as the focal point of many successful actions against the plans for restructuring at the university, the Sussex Against Privatization campaign was able to win huge support both within and outside the university, resulting in a national demonstration on March 25th that saw over 2000 people protest on campus.

Draconian response As is usual when successful campaigns take off at universities, management’s response was brutal. Extremely quickly after the national demonstration a High Court injunction was secured banning all protest at the University of Sussex – a fundamental attack on students and workers’ right to resist attacks at their universities. The ban on protest at Sussex is an escalation from previous injunctions obtained by the university and other institutions banning only occupations, a precedent that met with stark criticisms from human rights groups and lawyers concerned about its effects on the right to protest. With all protest now essentially rendered a criminal act at Sussex, 235 workers find the battle over their jobs will be even tougher than before.

Total Protest Ban Alongside the total ban on protest, university management undertook an eviction of the seven-week occupation on April 2nd, inviting bailiffs and police on to campus to achieve this. The eviction came after private security trapped occupiers in the building for days with restricted access to food and water. Faced with the threat of a violent eviction, Sussex Against Privatization decided to end the occupation and emerged to cheers from supporters outside.

Despite this police chose to arrest four students. We have seen the criminalisation of higher education protesters before and recognise that the police seek to deter all of us from taking action by putting a few campaigners through the ordeal of court proceedings and bail conditions.

The Fight Continues 

Yet the campaign at Sussex is unwilling to let this happen and has incorporated solidarity with those arrested into its battle against privatization. At Brighton Magistrate’s Court on April 18th many gathered to support the charged anti-privatization campaigners, packing out the public gallery. All four students have pled ‘not guilty’ to the charges brought against them and intend to fight this assault on themselves and the right to protest.

Best form of defence – keep fighting At Sussex the campaign also continues. Campaigners defied the protest ban with a week of action starting on April 15th. Indicative ballots from all unions on campus show strong support for industrial action in defence of the threatened jobs and public support continues to grow, including an Early Day Motion signed by 32 Members of Parliament. The Pop Union has also been formally reocgnised as a trade union and has now entered into a trade dispute with University management.

In support of the Sussex Against Privatization campaign we:

  • Call for all charges against students to be dropped
  • Demand that Vice-Chancellor Michael Farthing lift the ban on protest

To support the campaign you can:

  • Send messages of solidarity to Sussex Against Privatization (sussexagainstprivatisation@gmail.com)
  • Attend the hearings of charged students – one will be on September 9th 2013
  • Continue to support the campaign

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