Paul Callanan, Youth Fight for Jobs and Education, National Organiser
On Saturday the National Union Students (NUS) set a date for the walkout against privatisation of universities. The strike will now take place on the 14th March. While the government white paper on education was withdrawn the walk out is taking place against attempts by university managements to implement the measures themselves. The move by the NUS is a historic step; never in its 90 year history has the NUS called a national walkout. It is now the job of every university and college activist to make sure that the action is a big, militant show of anger. We can have no faith that the NUS are going to build to make this a success. The movement of protests, occupations and strikes in late 2010 was built for outside of the official structure of the NUS. This move is positive and gives us the chance to take action with authority of NUS behind us. But at the same time for the leadership it is really about keeping up appearances. At best they will campaign for a turn out half heartedly and then no further action will be taken. We will now campaign for local SU’s to mobilise for the day and completely shut down education. The day of action needs to be the start of a renewal of student militancy. The NUS has called this strike against attempts to privatise the universities by the back door. Yet many students will also be angry about sky-high fees, the scrapping of EMA and cuts. Ultimately to score any kind of real and lasting victory for students demands for a genuinely fair education system. Education is a right not a privilege to be enjoyed only by those that can afford it. The demand of the walkout needs not just to be against privatisation and cuts. We also call for tuition fees to be scrapped. We call for grant funded higher education. The walkout should also be spread to the FE colleges demanding the reinstatement of EMA. On March 28th another round of pensions strike is likely. The NUS should call further action and mobilise students to attend picket lines and demonstrations in solidarity with striking workers. While it is vital that students fight to defend the right to an education, this alone is not enough. A mass movement of students, youth and workers is what is needed to take defeat this ConDem government and its cuts agenda. We are determined to fight for a new society. Socialist Students and Youth Fight for Jobs and Education will build for the walkout as part of the campaign against ConDem austerity. The length and breadth of the country we will be building a campaign to demand a future. We are fighting for jobs, homes and services for young people. We will build a movement that says we won’t be a lost generation! We will fight their system!