Hundreds of UCU members joined students protesting outside parliament on Thursday. We were outraged at the police brutality—kettling people for hours in the cold, charging with horses, and causing many injuries with batons and shields.
We were not surprised that many protesters fought back. We should be very proud of those young people. At the meetings of our two industrial committees the day after we adopted a statement critical of the police violence. It demands a public and union inquiry into Thursday’s events.
The campaign against the slashing of Educational Maintenance Allowance will also continue into the new year. This is a major issue for hundreds of thousands of FE and sixth form students.
The government is allowing no new EMA applications after this month and aims to cut the allowance completely by September 2011.
UCU has helped set up an alliance of seven trade unions and the NUS to resist these cuts.
Most of our members rightly chose to stick with their students on the march to parliament on Thursday and are angry both at the brutality of the police and the ineffectual diversion which the official UCU/NUS rally and vigil represented.
There are questions to be asked about why the UCU bureaucracy did not get behind the call for a demonstration from Malet Street made by the UCU London Region and University of London student union.
The UCU and NUS leaderships stood on the sidelines, politically impotent and organisationally irrelevant.
If instead they had supplied speakers at the rally and invited trade union and Labour Party speakers onto the front ranks of the demonstration, many of us doubt that the police would have been able to act as brutally as they did on Thursday.
You can download campaign materials from the Save EMA website, www.saveema.co.uk