UP TO 150 school students walked out of Harwich School on Thursday of last week. They organised their strike in support of a campaign against the effective privatisation of health facilities, including the maternity ward, in Harwich, Essex.
One student said, 'I was born in this maternity unit and I want to eventually have my children here so I will do all I can to try and stop the closure.' Under the proposed scheme, the land where the local hospital, maternity ward and ambulance station are situated could be sold to property developers. The Unison union has now backed the campaign against the scheme.
School students were inspired to take action following a 400-strong demonstration last week. They raised the slogan 'Health bosses hear us say, NHS is here to stay'.
The strike shows that the politicisation of school students following the war has not gone away. As well as protesting against the health cuts, school students wore 'End the occupation of Iraq' and 'Free Palestine' stickers publicising the national demonstration. Paris Gardener, one of the students, said, 'The stickers are relevant because they have money for war but not to keep our maternity ward open.'
Campaigners have also launched a local referendum calling for a new 24-hour publicly funded hospital and plan further demonstrations.
Henna Malik and John Tipple