On Monday 25th January, a rent strike national rally was held, with an array of speakers from the labour movement. It was held in support of the 50+ rent strikes taking place across the country right now. Speakers included John McDonnell (MP), Zahra Sultana (MP), Jo Grady (UCU Gen Sec), as well as a number of students. This rally marked an important step forward in this newly found movement. The potential for an organised fight back against the marketisation of education was on display. One of the speakers, Billy Timimi, from Brunel Marxist Society and Brunel Student justice, spoke about how due to the current crisis facing society, we must connect the question of rent with tuition fees. Watch his video below and transcript below:
We’re living in times of crisis. not just due to the pandemic but on a much broader scale. We can see this crisis in the state of the political leadership of the ruling classes. Boris Johnson. Trump. Bolsonaro and Biden. These idiots are the best leaders the capitalist class can put forward.
“We can see the crisis in the too in economy, that slowly lurches from slump to slump.This generation of youth has only ever seen a slow and merger economy. First the 2008 recession then and the eurozone crisis. Then we had a period of recovery, or so it was called. It certainly din’t feel like one. Never did we see and end to the wave of austerity that was only meant to be a measure to help us out of crisis. All the attempts made to bring us out of the last crisis simply served to build up the next one. The pandemic was not the cause of our current economic crisis, it was merely the one straw that broke the camels back.
In this period of sustained crisis the ruling classes see it as an economic necessity to cut back on any reforms it was previously able to hand out in times of plenty. By cutting all of our living standards they hope to breath life back into a dying system. This is the reason why higher education is no longer free as it once was. This is why universities are no longer properly funded by the government.
The ruling class has launched its attack but we are fighting back. As individuals we have no chance against the status quo but together we are able to fight back. This is why it’s so incredible that we have seen a wave of over 50+ universities rent strikes across the country. A movement I am incredibly proud to be a part of with Brunel student justice.
We have shown that we will not be treated as cash cows to be milked dry. We have fangs and we will strike back.
As individual strikes we have already won some concessions, and but we could be so much more powerful with a united front. Imagine over 50 rent strikes acting in unison with each-other and we should be looking for united front not just across the student body but with university workers! That’s a force to reckon with and one I certainly wouldn’t want to have to deal with if I were management. With that kind of power we are in a position to fight them not just on rent, but on tuition fees, and how universities are run as a whole. With so many strikes across the country we find ourselves in a unique position of being able to fight against the marketisation of education and we should do everything in our power to do so.
Concessions have been made, but we can win more. They have given us scraps, but we should be aiming to take the full meal. Universities are a profit based institution and next year they will see they will be doing everything in their power to make back any losses they made as a result of the concessions they have made this year.
This is why we shouldn’t just be far more ambitious, something which the strength of our movement allows us to do. Instead of allowing management to attack us over time and time and always be playing defence,
we should instead be asking for students and workers control of our universities finances. Only once we have achieved this can we lay rest our continuous fight against management. We should be looking for proper funding for the higher education sector only then can we lay to rest our fight against the government and the economic system that has brought us into crisis.
This is going to be a tough and bitter fight, but I am convinced we will win. We are many and they are few. Victory to the students.”