Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/11534
Higher and Further education
United public sector action needed to defend jobs and pensions!
Text of a leaflet produced for the 24 March University and College Union (UCU) strike:
The Con-Dem coalition has made clear that it intends to butcher many of the historic gains won by trade unionists using the excuse of financial necessity.
Health, education and social security are all under threat, while bankers' bonuses remain untouchable and multinationals like Vodafone are excused multi-billion pound tax bills.
Clearly, there's the money in society to fund free post-school education for all, decent pay and conditions throughout post-16 education, and an expansion of research in all subjects.
But a political decision has been made to attack higher and further education for ideological reasons.
If the Browne report is implemented, this will not only lead to the effective privatisation of university teaching, but will also cause several universities to close if they are unable to make up funding losses by recruiting enough paying students.
Proposed cuts in further education have the potential to devastate the sector, and more are planned. The current UCU strikes to defend pensions, jobs and pay are clearly an important first step in resisting this onslaught.
Only determined action can beat the government's cuts agenda, but this will need to be coordinated with other trade unions with support from the student movement.
The TUC demonstration on 26 March should be used as a springboard to organise a one-day public sector strike as a step towards a one-day general strike if the cuts are not stopped.
It would be a mistake at this stage to rely entirely on action short of a strike alone (such as an exam boycott) to further our aims: Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Co are determined to redistribute wealth towards the fantastically rich, but they are in a weak position if faced with a determined, united campaign of action.
It would also be a mistake to imagine that a Labour government would reverse any cuts made - Labour councils are implementing the cuts, and their only disagreement with the Tories nationally seems to be over the speed and details of the cuts.
Trade unions like the RMT and FBU no longer fund New Labour - working people need to create a new, mass party that represents their interests in the same way that the three main parties represent the rich and powerful.
The Socialist Party stands for a democratic socialist society, run for people not profit.
We fight for:
- A decent pension for all, with no extension of the retirement age.
- Scrap tuition fees and implement a living student grant throughout post-16 education.
- End casualisation in further and higher education.
- Massive investment in education and research as part of a democratically planned economy.
Our UCU members will work with all others who want UCU to be a democratic, fighting union. To find out more, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0208 9888777.