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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 March 2010

On the march against cuts

Across the country, students and lecturers have been standing side by side in struggles against cuts. This was repeated again in London on 20 March when hundreds of further and higher education lecturers were joined on their demonstration by students, university admin staff, members of the National Union of Teachers and other workers.

Ben Robinson

The demonstration was timed for the Saturday after the university budget (ie cuts) announcements on 18 March. Unfortunately this was also just before many universities had their holidays, so the protest only showed a part of the anger that is shaking universities. In addition to the demonstration, there was a successful strike at Sussex University on 18 March.

Queen Mary University management have reversed an earlier announcement about compulsory redundancies due to a campaign from staff and students. However, jobs are still being lost and it's likely that in future rounds of cuts, management will plan sackings.

Kings College London, where the demonstration started, is facing big job cuts, including Britain's last professor of palaeography. These cuts will affect everyone in education, and those hoping to return to retrain.

Localised job cuts will turn into a national slaughter. At Sussex University, vice chancellor Michael Farthing attempted to deny all responsibility for the cuts. But if management were seriously opposed to cuts they should refuse to implement them.

A national strategy is needed from the lecturers' union UCU to fight all cuts, linking with other university and college unions, including in joint national strike action.

The demonstration was a start, and an indication of the way the movement can develop. This needs to be urgently built on in all areas. There is a pressing need for a national campaign to link up the staff trade unions, fighting students unions and anti-cuts campaigns to say no to cuts, no to closures, no to higher fees.

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