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Dispatches from the Halloween higher education strike

Ostudent protest by Andrew Moss Photography, file at  by Andrew Moss Photographyn Thursday, a nationwide higher education strike saw lecturers, librarians, cleaners and other support staff down tools for a day, as students joined them on the picket lines.

The one day strike, called jointly by the UCU, Unite and Unison trade unions, followed yet another year of a pay increase offer below inflation. Coupled with previous below-inflation pay rises, the measly one per cent increase means that since 2008 university staff have been forced to take a real-terms pay cut of 13 per cent.

In London today, a conference will assess how to bring together students and workers in opposition to austerity, after what seems to be a resurgence in activism on British campuses.

At Queen’s University Belfast, trade unionists and students spoke to camera about why they were taking action:

In Cambridge, a rally saw a series of speakers connect the pay cut to the wider dismantling of the university as a public service:

The Revolutionary Socialism blog has compiled many more accounts of strike action across the country.

Meanwhile, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) has called on supportive students to sign a statement calling for a winter of discontent across campuses, both in support of workers demanding fair pay and in opposition to the proposed privatisation of student loans:

Over the coming days and weeks, join us in organising meetings, actions and occupations in support of the education workers’ fight for fair pay. We call for fair pay in HE and FE, an end to zero-hours contracts, no privatisation of student debt, and free education, funded by taxing the rich and big business.

In the coming days and weeks:
Hold meetings, protests and rallies on your campus in support of the strikes, and against the privatisation of student debt
Build contacts with staff and co-ordinate action at every level: across cities, on campuses and in departments
Hold flash occupations – ‘shockupations’ – in solidarity with the pay dispute

To sign the call, email againstfeesandcuts [at] gmail.com.

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