The OUSU president has described last month’s agreement between the National Union of Students and a group of trade unions as being based on “values that are the backbone of the student movement”.
The agreement, which was made with the Trades Union Congress (TUC), outlines ten areas in which the two groups will pursue their “joint ambitions” in educational and workplace settings.
These include a promise to promote the living wage, a cause OUSU has championed in recent years through the Living Wage Campaign. The “living wage”, set at £7.45 per hour outside London, is based on the amount an individual needs to earn to cover the basic costs of living.
The document also includes a further pledge to “inspire and mentor women” to be leaders.
Tom Rutland, who assumed the OUSU presidency earlier this summer, said the joint focus of the groups would boost many of the student union’s campaigns in Oxford.
“JCRs, MCRs and OUSU were built upon the values of collaboration and collectivism – whether it concerns negotiating rent in colleges, coming together as students of Oxford to lobby the University on the quality of teaching and learning, or fighting with students across the country for an affordable, accessible, publicly funded higher education system,” he said.
“NUS and TUC’s focus on the living wage and empowering women can only serve to increase the salience of these issues and strengthen our local campaigns on campus.”
He defended the move against suggestions that it was overly political, claiming that “student unions are by their very nature political”.
“We’re here to represent and fight for better conditions for students – and it’s absolutely right that OUSU is political, and that NUS is.”
“The recent agreement between NUS and TUC is based on their ‘shared belief in social justice, collective organisation and democratic participation’ – values that are the backbone of the student movement, of our JCRs, MCRs and our student union.”
The document, signed by NUS president Toni Pearce, outlines hopes that the allied groups can challenge “privatisation and outsourcing” in further and higher education institutions.
It also looks set to encourage more graduates to join trade unions after leaving university, with the NUS agreeing to “assist the TUC in exploring the potential of a new ‘gateway’ to union membership for young workers” and “promote trade unions and trade union membership to students”.
The NUS is a federal organisation, of which OUSU is a member. OUSU is one among 600 member students’ unions drawn from a mix of higher and further education institutions.