Over 90 workers and students from universities across London and beyond met at King’s College on Tuesday 15 December to discuss ways of giving a united focus to the fight to defend jobs and education. Activists came a variety of institutions including UCL, Westminster University, Westminster College, London College of Communication, Tower Hamlets College, Queen Mary University, Goldsmiths, London Metropolitan University and Sussex University.
Jim Wolfreys, president of King’s College UCU union branch, introduced the meeting. He explained that it had been called in response to an escalating crisis in higher education caused by government attacks and the desire of managements to use the financial crisis as a pretext to restructure their institutions.
A number of speakers stressed the scale of the cuts being imposed, with some facing redundancy themselves. There was a general feeling that we must act now to stop the cuts.
Richard from Tower Hamlets UCU told the meeting how his college went on all-out strike for four weeks and successfully fought off all compulsory redundancies. He said that the solidarity from trade unionists across London and beyond, who raised over £30,000, was crucial in their victory.
In order to organise and co-ordinate further actions an open organising meeting was suggested, provisionally called the London Education Action Committee, on 19 January. All those interested in attending should contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The meeting agreed to build and support the mass lobby of parliament called by the national UCU union on 26 January, mobilising students and lecturers to gather at the Strand and march on parliament. The meeting also decided to call a rally at King’s in the first few weeks of February to build the campaign
Quoting the demonstrators at London Met, one activist said of the university management and the new movement: “They are the past, we are the future”.