Friday, 1 April 2011

NUS Cancel National Conference

In a controversial move, the board of trustees at the National Union of Students have suspended the constitution and cancelled the union's National Conference that was due to be held in Newcastle in a fortnight's time.

In a statement the NUS trustees said that all sovereign power would now be passed to the National President, Aaron Porter, indefinitely.

Reactions from students' unions have been mixed, SOAS Students' Union welcomed the news, saying "finally the revolution has come", but NUS Scotland and NUS Wales condemned the action citing power being moved away from the nations and centralized in London.

The situation came about because of a massive austerity drive from Porter, which has seen affiliation fees quadruple and democracy events cut.

It was widely speculated that the sovereign body, National Conference, would be dramatically reduced from around 25,000 delegates to just 25 in what was called the Manchester plan, because it would mean that only the University of Manchester Students' Union and Manchester Metropolitan Students' Union would be able to send any delegates to conference. The conference would've also moved from the Sage conference centre to Weatherspoon's on Newcastle High Street; but due to the dire finances of the National Union, even these emergency measures would have placed the organisation into administration.

Some students' unions have called for the President's £1m salary to be slashed but an independent review, headed up by former President Wes Streeting, found that President's pay should in fact rise by 50% above inflation year on year; despite the other full time officers not being paid the minimum wage. It is thought that Porter's control of the union will be for the foreseeable future, even though he guaranteed elections by the end of the year.

The United Nations will meet later on Friday to discuss what sanctions they might impose on NUS while military action has not been ruled out.