UK campuses have been shut down over the last week by a national walkout of UCU members. The Marxist Student Federation has been active in mobilising students to offer support and solidarity. Workers and students: unite and fight!

Over the last week, UCU members have been undertaking the biggest strike in the history of higher education. On the 24, 25, and 30 November, 70,000 staff at 150 universities across the UK walked out in a dispute over pay, working conditions, and pensions. 

The Marxist Student Federation has been heavily involved, mobilising students to join the pickets and show solidarity with striking staff.

While university bosses attempt to divide workers and students against each other, we always bring to the fore the common interest we share with staff. United in struggle, we can strike a blow against the marketisation of education.

At meetings, rallies, at picket lines, our comrades have been putting forward clear socialist demands: for free education, funded by expropriation; and democratic control of universities by staff and students.

Radical appetite

We have received excellent reports from Marxist societies at campuses across the country, showing what the MSF has been doing locally to build solidarity amongst students towards striking UCU members.

Activists from Sheffield MarxSoc, for example, joined a roving picket, bringing solidarity, tea, and coffee to picket lines. According to the comrades, the mood was enthusiastic, militant and determined. Strikers were receptive to our demands to end the marketisation of higher education, and our perspectives on the crisis of British capitalism.

When discussing the path ahead for the labour movement, many spontaneously mentioned the need for a general strike. There is growing confidence in the power of the organised working class – and an appetite for radical change, tactics, and leadership.

When comrades brought up demands for an indefinite strike and workers’ control, the response was broadly positive.

This attitude was emphasised at the rally held yesterday, 30 November, in support of the strikers. Socialist ideas were eagerly welcomed, and many UCU members engaged in discussions with Marxist student comrades about perspectives and policies.

The same militant mood was mentioned by comrades in Hull, Imperial, Queen Mary, and Birmingham, where UCU members were happy to see students organising on campus, coming to the pickets, and showing solidarity.

Marxist students reported that the anger is very much directed at the low pay and poor working conditions that university staff face, and the bosses’ threats over pensions.

The MSF was also present at picket lines over the last week in Glasgow, Kent, Norwich, Nottingham, UEL, UAL, UCL, LSE, and many more.

Revolutionary demands

In York, comrades were on the picket lines from start to finish. The local Marxist society was the only student group organising in support of the strikes, with a banner-making session the night before the latest strikes began.

Excellent political discussions were had with staff and students on the picket. And one of our comrades did a speech at the rally, connecting the crisis in education to the crisis of capitalism.

The Marxist society also organised a strong presence at KCL. Comrades held a teach-out on why we need workers’ control, which was met with an enthusiastic reception. The comrades even had a lecturer asking them to do a short talk in his class!

Comrades from the Leeds University and Leeds Beckett Marxist societies attended the UCU, Unison, and Unite picket lines on all three strike days.

Yesterday, comrades attended a demonstration in support of the strike, with activists marching down to the town hall. Two of our comrades spoke from the platform about the need to link struggles together, putting forward revolutionary demands. These speeches were met with a great response from the rest of the crowd.

Unite and fight!

Yesterday, the third and final day of the latest round of action, saw a national demonstration in London organised by the UCU. Thousands of trade unionists from the UCU, Unison, and RMT were present, with many students in support.

The general secretaries of the UCU, NEU, CWU, and RMT all spoke to the large crowd, highlighting the common struggle that workers in all these unions face. Jeremy Corbyn also spoke from the platform, offering solidarity to striking workers.

After these speeches, the rally turned into a march, with Marxist students forming a bloc of around 40 comrades.

The energy was palpable, with bold slogans chanted from comrades, such as: “Students and workers, unite and fight!”; “No wage losses, take it from the bosses!”; “The bosses have got to go! Put the workers in control!”.

Other protesters around us even joined in and chanted along with us, attracted by the dynamism of our youthful bloc and clear socialist ideas.

With further strike action likely on campuses next term, our comrades will continue building student-staff solidarity.

Together we can win. Students and workers: unite and fight!

Share this article!

Looking for the communists?

We've moved to over to a new website! Head here for communist news, theory, and activity, brought to you by the IMT! Feel free to exit this pop-up to read the MSF archives.



This will close in 0 seconds