Durham hit by mass protest
THE BIGGEST protest for years hit Durham in north east England last Thursday. Almost 1,000 students at Durham University marched against university management's decision to increase halls rents by 270 a year. "This is a 10 percent increase in rent charges," Paul Leek, a student and the incoming treasurer at the college, told Socialist Worker. "It would exclude the poorest students from university. Around 900 of us marched, which is 10 percent of the university's population. And this was the day before dissertations were supposed to be handed in. As we passed the Old Shire Hall, the administrative centre, people made a spontaneous attempt to occupy. The police managed to close the gates and stop us. Around 150 of us went back after the march to apply for student hardship money because of the rises, and the security guards wouldn't let us in. We sat down on the steps outside for a few hours in protest. Our action has meant that management have reopened negotiations, but we're carrying on the fight." Students were to lobby the university council as Socialist Worker went to press.
Over 200 students occupied the University of East London from Thursday evening until Saturday morning last week. They were furious at massive 2.9 million cuts plans being pushed by vice-chancellor Frank Gould "We have tried all other routes to stop the cuts. This is the only option we have left," said one student. The occupation ended after management got a court order and sent in police on Saturday morning.
OVER 150 people attended a conference on Labour's environmental policies in London last Saturday. Speakers included campaigner George Monbiot and UNISON deputy general secretary Keith Sonnet. Many participants attacked the government's record.