“You say you have no money, you say that times are tough.
“Don’t take it out on education—we have had enough!”
So went the chants on an angry march through London yesterday as lecturers and students united against education cuts.
Hundreds marched to Westminster on the day that ten further education colleges and three universities struck against cuts. The strikes were solid—and won much support from students.
“I’m doing a health and social care diploma and now the college might run out of money for the course,” said Toby, a student at Westminster Kingsway College.
“I should be going to university to do occupational therapy, but they might run out of money for that course too.
“Students need to do what we do best—protest.”
There was generalised anger at the bank bailouts and the way that the government is trying to force cuts on services while the rich carry on living it up.
“If we acted like the banks and got into loads of debt we’d be losing our houses,” said Eileen Williams, a plumbing lecturer at Hackney College. Her department faces cuts of 70 percent—five out of seven workers’ jobs are under threat. It is throwing workers’ lives into chaos.
“They should manage us a little less and give us a little more—spread out the wealth a bit,” said Eileen. “I used to do completely different jobs to teaching and I’ve retrained three times now. But there’s only so much retraining you can do.
“I was just about to take out a mortgage and it’s taken me a long time to get to that position.
“Now I can’t do it.”
Maureen is a maths teacher at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (Conel).
“If I lose my job here I can’t go to the college down the road for a job as they’re in the same situation,” she said. “Maths is meant to be a government priority but they want to cut half our department.
“All the parties have lied about the cuts and this is just the beginning. I look at Greece and think, that’s what’s going to happen here.”
The college strikes marked the first time in a while that people in different workplaces have taken united strike action to stop cuts. Whoever wins the election today, we will need much more of it.