Twenty-seven years ago, Barbara Smith asked “Where’s the Revolution?”. We’re still waiting. Pride season 2020 has finished now and we desperately need some reflection on how to build an uncompromising movement capable of disrupting conservative social control and joining up struggles in increasingly anxious times.
On 5th November 2020, after 5 years of tireless campaigning by students and staff, the University of Dundee divested from all fossil fuels. Student campaigner Hannah Feuerstein tells us how they succeeded:
The Sweatshop Free campaign is a movement of people uniting for better workers’ rights for those who work in sweatshops. The campaign, led by students in the People & Planet network, brings together students with those who work in the factories that manufacture the very electronics used in universities by students.
This was my first ever Power Shift, and People & Planet's first ever online Power Shift. Needless to say, in the run up to Power Shift I felt excited, but also nervous and apprehensive. My mind, rather unhelpfully, filled itself with anxieties about not knowing anyone, but also the worries that come with the uncharted new landscape that the Coronavirus pandemic had created. But in the end, it turns out the worried questions about being camera shy or not wanting to speak on video need not have bothered me.
On Saturday more than 30 students from People & Planet groups all across the country came together to decide our next climate campaign. We're thrilled to announce the End Extractivist Ties proposal was chosen from a really strong field.
Left-wing rhetoric is clear on the desire and shared goal for inclusivity; for those from varying sexual orientations, gender identifications, races, ethnicities and abilities to share in equality gained through ensuring systemic justice. Movements supporting this are often celebrated within academic institutions; solidarity can be seen through society involvement, democratic practice within student unions as well as increasingly explorative methods in inciting action and civil disobedience.
Our biggest achievement this year was at Leeds University Union’s May Forum, where we put forward a motion asking the union to lobby the University of Leeds to cut ties with Barclays until it stops funding the climate breakdown. Having achieved a huge victory at the start of the academic year, with the University divesting £3.6 million of its shares in Shell, BP and Total, we wanted to keep up the momentum and pressure the University to examine its secondary links to the fossil fuel industry.
For any campaign to be sustainable over time, campaigners must be able to transfer knowledge from older or more ‘experienced’ members to newer and incoming members. As campaign members frequently shift and change, important knowledge and strategies can fade out if they are not passed on. Universities rely on a high turnover of students within campaigns, making institutional knowledge and longer-term bargaining harder to achieve.
Earlier this month the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC) co-signed an open letter with Electronics Watch (EW) clarifying the nature of SUPCS’ affiliation. Electronics Watch is a worker-driven monitoring organisation which audits supply chains within the global electronics industry, an industry which has been identified as high risk for modern slavery as well as a raft of other workers rights abuses.