Yesterday saw strikes at King’s College London, Westminster University and eleven FE colleges across London. Picket lines were well-attended, with students joining staff for lively protests. Over 400 people from across London came to the demonstration at King’s College at 1pm. The strike at King’s continues today, with picket lines all day and another rally planned at 1pm – all supporters welcome.
Lecturers at Sussex University were on strike as well, and strong support from students boosted the picket lines. A large demonstration in Brighton that evening brought workers and students together from Sussex, Brighton University and several of the town’s FE colleges – and at the subsequent strike rally there was much discussion about how the different education unions could pull together to take the campaign forward and see off the cuts that will follow the election.
At UCL, strike action was suspended at the last minute in response to a new offer from management. And the protests to save philosophy at Middlesex University have escalated, with the student occupation growing to take over an entire building and being joined by prominent philosophers keen to defend their discipline. Follow the latest developments and send messages of support via the campaign blog http://savemdxphil.com/
The continuing action at King’s and Middlesex still need active support today. Some the institutions on strike yesterday will be following through with action short of a strike over the coming weeks, and more ballots may result in strike action at Manchester Metropolitan University and elsewhere.
However, this is all just the start: today’s election is likely to be followed by an emergency budget within 50 days, which much of the press speculate could mean deeper public sector cuts than are being implemented in Greece. The Right To Work Campaign has called an emergency conference for the defence of the public sector on the 22nd of May. This is supported by the UCU London Region, Higher Education Committee and Further Education Committee as well as other trade union bodies, and will include a session on the defence of education.
University of Westminster management have summoned a prominent student activist to an investigation into the occupation in March. The case of the Sussex 6 showed how universities can use disciplinary procedures to intimidate the movement (and how the movement can bite back!) and the victimisation at UoW could have implications at Middlesex and beyond.
A protest has been called at 2pm Friday at Regent St – it will need as much support as possible.