As we creep towards march the 14th it is likely we will face a difficult situation in terms of building for this week of action. The NUS has called a national week of action and so far i have heard very little on plans and actions for the week.
As socialist students we feel we can lend a hand here. Where no action is planned by your student union at your college, school or university we’d like to be on hand to help with building and lending support and solidarity to the walk out.
NUS is organising a parliamentary lobby on 7 March and a ‘week of action’ from 12-16 of March. The centrepiece of the student action should be the national walk-out that has been announced. Liam Byrne, NUS president, has called for this to take place this term. This development should be welcomed by all students who want to campaign against the whole range of attacks currently underway on our campuses.
Clearly, the right wing NUS leadership has been forced to take this action by pressure from below. It cannot be forgotten last term’s two most successful protests aimed at students and youth, the Jarrow March for Jobs and the student demo on 9 November, were organised outside of NUS structures.
NUS should be mobilising to support teachers and lecturers in their battle to defend pensions. When these workers next take strike action NUS should mobilise student solidarity on the picket lines and rallies, calling on all students to join the strike. While very important, student action alone will not be enough to stop the higher education slaughter. Unity with workers, particularly when they strike, is key. Workers and students unite and fight!
The walkout is less than two weeks away. However, so far, the NUS have failed to build for a day of mass action across the country.
Socialist Students members should contact student union officers to find out what the union is planning – if anything – and how they intend to build for it.
Where a student union refuses to build for the walkout, then Socialist Students could put an emergency motion to the student union council to mandate the officers to take action.
But this shouldn’t be a substitute for building for the walkout ourselves. Mass postering and leafleting around campus can help raise the profile of the strike.
Socialist Students members could organise for their own course-mates to take part in the walkout. This could act as an example for other students to follow.
Socialist Students groups could also call meetings open to all students and groups who are willing to organise action. These ‘action committees’ could then help organise the strike as well as any protests and rallies.
Socialist Students is calling for the student strike to be spread to colleges and schools. In some towns, central meeting points for demonstrations could help link up university students with school and college students for a march. In other areas, on-campus protests might be the best option.
Liam Burns, NUS president, has said: “…let’s clear out the lecture theatres, the seminar rooms, the ITC suites and the libraries and demonstrate clearly that without students, universities are just empty buildings. Let’s work hard together to show that students care and make the national walkout count.”
These are fine words, but words alone are not enough. We need democratic, fighting student unions to defend education. We say no to cuts, fees and privatisation – bring back EMA. Strike back on 14 March!
Then, for 28 March, plan for coordinating follow up action with lecturers as they take action alongside teachers and civil servants in defence of pensions.