On Wednesday February 1st, Marxist Students from around the country were out at picket lines and protests. Here are some reports of our work. If you would like to attend a picket line or help us build for the next national day of action then get in touch!
Five Marxist students from east London attended an NEU picket line at Newham Sixth Form College, where two of our comrades are also students.
Striking teachers were pleased to see us again, as last year we campaigned to build support amongst students for a previous NEU strike, which helped secure a victory for the staff.
Since then, however, college management has ignored everything they initially presented in their agreement. They have continued with their bullying and victimisation of union members, and they are continuing to push for academisation.
This shows that without a root-and-branch transformation of how education is run, any concessions won through struggle will be rolled back – or even ignored!
School staff were out on the picket lines from the early morning and were in good spirits. Comrades arrived, copies of Socialist Appeal in hand, distributing flyers that we had produced. These called on students to support the strike to defend their education.
We immediately got chatting to those walking into the college, spreading the word about the NewVic Student Activist Committee and student-staff assembly that we are organising.
After the picket, an NEU member thanked us for our work, and asked us to help with getting quotes from students on how their education has been impacted by cuts and academisation. We will continue supporting the teachers at NewVic.
University of East Anglia
At the University of East Anglia (UEA), a local dispute over the prospect of job cuts is the focus of the UCU’s campaign. The UEA Marxists have been consistently supporting the UCU strikes on our campus.
On the picket lines, we weren’t just there to hold up placards, but also to talk with striking workers. We learned a lot from these conversations, and were able to discuss how the crisis in higher education is linked to the crisis of capitalism.
On the back of this, the strikers then asked the Marxist society to host a stall outside of a Q&A meeting with the vice chancellor, in order to spread the word to students and workers about the dispute.
We are keeping in touch with the UCU branch so that we can continue building support for the strikes.
The Lancaster Marxists stood alongside the hundreds of workers who mobilised on 1 February to fight against the Tories’ anti-union laws and attacks on public services. We attended both UCU and NEU picket lines.
The mood on the pickets was one of determination and exhilaration. This was especially the case for the teachers on the NEU picket, who received complete support and solidarity from passing motorists, students, and other members of the public.
Later in the day, the UCU and NEU pickets combined – along with strikers from the PCS and RMT unions – for a march and demonstration in the town centre. Even the posties, who were not on strike that day, came along to express their solidarity. Understanding the need for coordinated action, workers are taking steps to link up their struggles.
One of our comrades was invited by the UCU rep to speak at the demo, on the basis of our consistent support for their strike action over the past year.
Our comrade put forward a Marxist perspective on what should come after the ‘day of action’. He raised the idea of cross-union committees to link-up the struggles from top to bottom. This was met with approval from the strikers.
This comrade also explained the need for the labour movement to wage a mass-campaign to topple the Tories. This was met with cheers from the crowd, showing the appetite for escalating the struggle.
The Lancaster Marxists will continue to build links with the local labour movement, on and off-campus.
The Kent Marxists organised a placard making session in preparation for supporting the NEU members on the pickets. We invited along students who were interested in supporting the strikes.
After the march on 1 February, we assembled at a meeting hall, where strikers spoke from the heart about the immense pressure that they’re under in the education sector. Some called for the removal of the Tories, and made clear that workers must rely on their own strength.
Two members of Kent Marxists also got the opportunity to speak. One of our comrades, a junior doctor and BMA member, linked the struggle in education with that in the NHS – calling for defiance of the Tories’ anti-union laws, including a 24-hour general strike if necessary.
Both speeches ended with bold demands for democratic workers’ control, and for the expropriation of the bosses to fund public services. This was met with an electrifying response from the crowd.
On the back of this day of action, three more students agreed to join Socialist Appeal and help build the forces of Marxism. They couldn’t have joined at a better time!