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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 December 2020

Rent strikers' victory in Manchester student halls

Visiting the Manchester Student occupation. photo: Manchester and Salford SP

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.

Confidence grows

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.

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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.
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In The Socialist 2 December 2020:


What we think

Spending Review. Unions must resist return to austerity


Spending Review

What will the spending review mean for me?

Napo kickstarts fight against pay freeze


News

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


Devolution

Where is devolution heading?


Workplace News

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


Environment

'Building back greener' - yet more Tory greenwash


International News

Conflict in Ethiopia: ethnic-linguistic divisions are the historical product of capitalist inequality


Marxism

Review: Friedrich Engels - Condition of the working class in England


Campaigns

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!


Reader's opinion

TV: The Social Dilemma

Fast fashion, big profits, low pay

Diego Maradona - Working-class rebel, football genius

Socialist Inbox


 

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Related links:

Manchester:

triangleManchester student occupation - end rip-off rent, free education now

triangleSolidarity with Manchester students - fight for democratic control of campus safety

triangleWorking-class based campaign needed

triangleHealth before profit - Work or full pay

triangleBeware the billionaires bearing gifts

Student:

triangleRefund student rent and fees

triangleRefund student rent and fees - fight for free education and make the 1% pay

triangleYork students determined to build for rent refunds and free education

triangleStrike action ballot at UEL over job cuts

Students:

triangleScrap fees, refund rents and pay a living grant

trianglePlymouth rent strike continues despite police harassment

triangleSocialist Students national meeting: Refund the rent, cancel the fees and fight for free education

University:

triangleRefund the rent, cancel the fees, for fully funded, publicly owned education

triangle'Cut the Rent!' campaign kicks off

Universities:

triangleUniversity teaching moves online in England

Occupation:

triangleIreland: Debenham's occupier speaks out

Rents:

triangleExtend eviction ban! Cap rents! Build council homes!

Socialist Students:

triangleWales exams scrapped: What's behind the headline?

Accommodation:

triangleEvicted students can fight back and win

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