On 20th November, Marxist student and NUS delegate Nico Navarro Padrón passed a motion through SOAS Union’s General Meeting to support the struggles of precarious workers. The motion, unanimously accepted by the UGM, will now be brought to the NUS conference in April next year.

As Marxists, we are part of the struggle of all workers against exploitation, and fully back the strikes and demands of precarious workers at the universities. We have all of the resources necessary to end precarious employment and give workers a decent living wage, but under this rotten capitalist system those resources are concentrated within the hands of the few who own the economy.

The passing of the motion at SOAS UGM also highlights the growing discontent among students with the capitalist system. Particularly since the crisis of 2008, struggling students are compelled to work with zero-hour contracts, underemployment and generally poor working conditions. Student Unions themselves in many universities employ their staff on such precarious contracts.

Marxist students will therefore continue to bring these motions to their UGMs, pushing for students to unite nationally and arguing for a lasting socialist change in society. Solidarity with precarious workers!


Nico’s speech at the SOAS UGM:

As NUS delegate, I am presenting this motion to the UGM in order to follow its democratic processes. The point is to bring this motion to discussion in the next NUS conference.

I think that the struggle against precarious work is a crucial point in the struggle against this rotting system. Zero-hour contracts and other forms of precarious employment are a reality for an increasing number of people.

Young people, minorities and migrant communities are especially affected by this. The community around this university has been exemplary in their support of this struggle through campaigns like Justice for Workers.

And also, more recently the IWGB have been fighting for their rights within UoL, in a movement that has seen massive support from students and workers across our community. I think it is time to make of this a wider struggle. By proposing this motion to the NUS, we have the opportunity of uniting with other universities across the country, trade unions and the wider labour movement to fight for an end to precarious employment on the basis of workers’ struggle.

I’m not the only one to be presenting this: many other NUS delegates that stand on the same socialist programmes as me will be doing so too at their respective universities.

The current crisis of capitalism is threatening the livelihoods of the majority in favour of the bosses and bankers. So this is an opportunity for us in the student, trade union and labour movement to unite and fight for a Britain for the many, not the few.


Motion to the SOAS UGM:

NUS Conference Believes:

  • Precarious employment has become a typical feature of our lives under capitalism
  • Over 10 million people in Britain are currently considered to be in precarious employment
  • Low pay, poor working conditions, zero-hour contracts and minimal rights have become standard
  • This leads people to be barely able to live off their wages and are living in a desperate social and financial situation
  • At Universities, the result of this has been recent campaigns to bring cleaners and other staff in-house
  • The Conservative government has been promoting and encouraging precarious employment
  • An upsurge in precarious work is a natural product of capitalist crisis

NUS Conference further believes:

  • We have the technology, resources, and ability to plan the economy so that no-one has to work in precarious employment
  • All workers should get a real living wage, fixed-term contracts, and full workers’ rights

NUS Conference resolves:

  • To support, with financial help and active participation, the struggles of precarious workers
  • To help organise a joint committee of union representatives of all precarious workers at universities, colleges, and schools
  • To make the case for and participate in joint union action, on a national scale, in defence of the rights of precarious workers
  • To campaign for the election of a government for the many, not the few, that will fundamentally transform society so that the economy is planned and run in the interests of need, not profit
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