Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/290/20228
School Students And Students
IN LEICESTER, young people are ready to join the strike against the war at both Universities and several schools around the city.
Duncan Torrance, QE sixth form and Leicester ISR member.
We understand why International Socialist Resistance (ISR) had to change the date nationally, but we kept the original strike date - Friday 7 March, as we'd already publicised it.
We have spoken to people at QE sixth form, Regents College, Gateway, St Paul's, English Martyrs, Stonehill, Rawlings, Wreake Valley and other schools who have pledged to walk out.
At Leicester College some tutors who oppose the war are encouraging the walkout! Walkouts are planned at lunchtime and at various points around the city, mini-rallies. We are all meeting up at the Clock Tower in the city centre at 2pm for a protest.
We have had a lot of response especially since the big anti-war demo. At QE there has been a good response and we have been fly-posting and leafleting for weeks.
During half term we went into the city centre to leaflet, meeting many school students. On Saturday stalls people asked for more leaflets to take back to colleges. We try to get every school to have at least one person on our email list to keep it co-ordinated and try to get them along to ISR meetings.
We have fly-posted and been to the press and radio stations. I was interviewed on Radio Leicester and there has been a small piece in the local paper advertising where we are meeting up.
On the day we want to get as many students to join ISR and start planning for mass civil disobedience on Day X - the day war breaks out.
ON 1 March, over 1,000 demonstrated against Bush and Blair's war in Birmingham. 17 young people from all over the Midlands region joined ISR and there was much interest about strikes in schools, colleges and universities against the war.
As 17-year old ISR and Socialist Party member Simon Beasley, said: "The demo has been very lively. We need to keep up the protests, and try and involve more school students. But the trade unions also need to get more involved and take up the issue of strikes against the war."
Debbie Kelly, Keele University student, told us: "Anti war protesters need to think about organising school and university strikes, by students and staff, as well as sit-ins.
"Keele anti war protesters aim to close the campus for lunchtime on the day of the attack on Iraq."
German school students show the way
IN GERMANY, the Youth Against War (YAW) campaign organised a successful day of action on 25 February.
Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative, Berlin
The campaign was launched by different school students', students' and apprentices' anti-war committees - many of them initiated by members of SAV (Sozialistische Alternative - the Socialist Party's German counterpart) and Resistance International (German affiliate of ISR).
YAW already exists in 14 different cities in Germany, while youth in other areas have said that they plan to launch it. On 25 February protests were organised in ten cities. Even before this, on 22 February, 300 young people protested against the war at a demonstration in Aachen.
In Kassel, 300 youth protested outside an arms company, Wegmann, calling on workers to take strike action against the war and especially against the arms industry. Marching through a working-class area with a high immigrant population, onlookers were applauding the young demonstrators.
In Berlin, 200 chanting school students marched to the US and British embassies. Their protest was not solely directed against Bush and Blair but also against the German government's de facto support for the US army. Speakers included a SAV representative who called for a joint struggle against war and social cuts.
In Cologne, 300 youth marched to the Green Party office pointing to the Green ministers' support for the SPD government's agreement to provide logistical support for the war.
There were smaller actions of 40 or more young people in Bremen, Hamburg and Rostock. In Bremen, the YAW dressed as weapons inspectors and wanted to "inspect the town hall"!
THE MOST successful action was the youth strike in Stuttgart where more than 10,000 took part. An all-out, one-day strike paralysed the schools in one of the largest recent local anti-war demonstrations in Germany.
The huge response and wide participation made it possible to hold small rallies at several schools which then joined up in one big demonstration, picking up students along the way. Students chanted: "Strike in the schools, strike in the factories, that's our answer to your war".
Speakers included SAV members and one from the public and service sector trade union Ver.di who said that workers should follow the example of the youth strike and called for a five-minute stoppage on the day the war starts.
YAW though plan youth strikes on 'Day X' all over Germany and are calling on trade unions and workers to join that day's youth demonstrations and take strike action themselves.
Building For Workplace Action
Teachers - turn opposition into activity
THE SOCIALIST Party, working with the Stop the War Coalition, are pushing for trade union protest action on the day, or day after, war starts in Iraq.
Many teachers strongly oppose this war for oil and US power and prestige. Many will have taken part in anti-war demonstrations. Now the National Union of Teachers (NUT) should be urgently raising the idea of action against the war.
Waltham Forest NUT's General Meeting on 25 February condemned the government for being prepared to spend billions on war, whilst slashing public-sector funding, increasing tuition fees, and cutting back on pensions. We called on the union to work through the TUC to convene a conference urgently to decide on concerted action.
We also decided to call a mass meeting of teachers in Waltham Forest on Day X - the day war starts - and ask members to leave their schools promptly at the end of the day and come to a mass meeting in Selbourne Square, Walthamstow to decide our response. We are also contacting other unions to join forces.
We also said that where students and older school students are getting organised and organising walkouts on the next working day after Day X, teachers should do all they can to support students.
Reports from Socialist Party teachers
TUC fudges the issue
THE STOP the War Coalition and some Left trade union leaders have been campaigning for the TUC Congress to be reconvened to oppose the war with Iraq and possibly organise industrial action against the war.
Unfortunately the TUC meeting on 26 February fudged the war issue. The statement after the meeting merely said they were concerned that action was being considered "without the sanction of the Security Council" and said they wanted to meet Tony Blair to ask him to use influence with the Bush administration to get a peaceful solution.
The Stop the War Coalition and the Left trade union leaders, who have taken a much stronger position on the war, should argue for action organised from below.
Regardless of TUC inaction, Socialist Party members will keep fighting for action in the workplace.
What you can do:
- Organise a Stop the War group in your workplace.
- Pass a resolution at your union branch calling for industrial action.
- Organise a consultative poll/petition/pledge form in your workplace to test support and build for action on Day X.
In The Socialist 7 March 2003: