Britain  •  Youth

Fees fight not over

01 January 2011

Now that parliament has voted to increase tuition fees and abolish the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), the student movement needs to force universities and councils to refuse to implement the policies.

The next stage is to demand that each local authority keeps funding and distributing EMA and campaigns for every universities to freeze tuition fees at their current rate.
Just because parliament has scrapped its funding and raised the cap doesn’t mean authorities have to do it.
The next big mobilisation is the national demonstration on 29 January. We should ask all trade unions to support this demo – and demand the NUS does as well. At the same time, we should argue for an indefinite strike of students and education workers (who are also fighting cuts and attacks on their pensions), to keep the pressure on the coalition.
But the government will not fall on education issues alone, which affect only a minority. We need a movement that fights every cut – not just to higher education, colleges, schools and EMA, but also to benefits, jobs and public services. To accept some cuts and not others – as Labour councils are proposing – will divide and weaken the movement.
By uniting students, welfare claimants, migrants, the disabled, the elderly, the youth and bringing into play the full might of seven million trade unionists, we can challenge the millionaires who run this country and bring down the government that rules in their favour.
Students and workers need to build education assemblies – or anti-cuts groups – in every town and city, bringing together and coordinating all the forces fighting the cuts.
Rebecca Allen, a PCS rep, told Workers Power: “We have held regular education assemblies in Leeds, which bring together hundreds of university, college and school students, and trade union activists. When we needed funding for the 9 December march on Parliament, the general assembly asked trade unionists to help fund coaches to London.
“They went back to their branches and, because their members were so enthusiastic about the student militancy, raised hundreds of pounds.”
Education assemblies/anti-cuts groups can do more than this: they give rise to bodies with delegates from workplaces and union branches, schools and colleges that can call action, and not have to wait for union leaders to call it.
They can mobilise the forces necessary to defeat the Tory-Lib Dem coalition – building towards a general strike with the muscle to bring down this bosses’ government.

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