Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1112/31702
From The Socialist newspaper, 2 December 2020
Rent strikers' victory in Manchester student halls
Visiting the Manchester Student occupation. photo: Manchester and Salford SP (Click to enlarge)
Maddy Steeds, Manchester and Salford Socialist Party
Students at the University of Manchester have successfully won a 30% refund of their rent for the term following 14 days of action. The students began occupying the halls of residence on the 12 November, with the demand of a 40% reduction in rent. Fifteen students were involved in the occupation, and received an outpouring of support from other students and the workers' movement.
The occupation followed multiple protests of students after the university management erected barriers around the student halls. The anger towards the university management was further increased after a halls resident was stopped by security in an incident of racial profiling.
The University of Manchester initially offered a reduction of 20% in rent for the rest of the semester, but the students held firm on their demand for more. The 30% reduction agreed upon by the management represents a pay-out of between £600-900 per resident, which the university says will cost £4 million. We celebrate the students' victory in winning their rent reduction and demand that the £4 million must not come from further cuts to lecturers and support staff.
Since the start of the pandemic, universities feared that loss of fees income, particularly from high fee-paying international students that could delay attendance. The University of Manchester, with a high proportion of international students, reacted to this by asking staff to enter into voluntary redundancy. Further to this, research budgets have been cut, and money to publish work in journals and at conferences has been reduced.
Despite the successful protests this semester, as it stands, the 30% refund only applied to first semester rents. Students will go back to paying huge amounts that most maintenance loans do not cover. More rent strikes are planned for next term, and are developing at other universities. The Manchester victory will give confidence to thousands of others.
We call for a reduction in rents of student accommodation permanently, and for rent caps to be decided by elected democratic committees involving students. Students should get a genuine living grant. Socialist Students argues that rent should be capped at 25% of this. All of this needs to be linked to the demands for staff and student safety, and for free education for all.
Donate to the Socialist Party
The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.
In The Socialist 2 December 2020:
What we think
Spending Review. Unions must resist return to austerity
What will the spending review mean for me?
Napo kickstarts fight against pay freeze
Better for billionaires. Worse for workers
Arcadia and Debenhams closures: Nationalise to save jobs and pensions
Scotland: Campaign wins end to period poverty
NHS: Underfunded, understaffed, underpaid
News in brief
Where is devolution heading?
Don't let the festive season be one of misery for retail workers
Equity union conference calls for radical change - now lead a fight!
Solidarity with Brighton UCU strike - we won't pay for Covid crisis
East London teachers strike in support of victimised union rep
Heathrow workers strike against 'fire and rehire' plans
Hackney: Stop plan to halve school support staff!
Pay freeze protest Homerton Hospital
Unison general secretary ballot closes
'Building back greener' - yet more Tory greenwash
Conflict in Ethiopia: ethnic-linguistic divisions are the historical product of capitalist inequality
Review: Friedrich Engels - Condition of the working class in England
Socialism 2020 feedback
Wales TUSC plans to mount an electoral challenge
Rent strikers' victory in Manchester student halls
Labour meeting lets MP get away with 'Spycops' abstention
Selling the Socialist
Fighting fund target smashed!
TV: The Social Dilemma
Fast fashion, big profits, low pay
Diego Maradona - Working-class rebel, football genius
The Socialist 2 December 2020 |
Join the Socialist
| Audio | PDF | ebook