The inspiring student climate strikes recently should be an example to all of us.
In 2010 sixth form and college students protested in their tens of thousands.
Back then it was against the trebling of tuition fees and the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance.
At Islington Sixth Form College in north London, our NUT union group met early in the morning of one of the big demos.
And, after a hard argument, we voted to walk out in support of our students.
At lunchtime, we walked out of the college gates with our union banner and marched down to Parliament Square to join the protests.
Wouldn’t it be a great if this could happen in a number of schools and colleges during the next student climate strike on 15 March?
Of course, this won’t be possible in lots of schools.
So maybe teachers there should hold solidarity protests in support of students outside the school gates before the school day begins or during the lunchtime break.
But things will not happen unless we argue for them.
And let’s hope that this time teaching and support staff unions all come out publicly and back the striking students.
They have acted while others, some better placed to do so, have held back.
The risk to the students’ education is serious. They are prepared to face this risk, but we should be looking for alternatives to mitigate that risk.
We have a responsibility to defend their education and to support their fight over climate change.
This is both a political and an economic battle.
It raises the question of power and control.
We should be looking for action from the trade unions in appropriate industries to act in support and defence of our young people.
They are also in a position to call for and lead a generalised campaign.
This could be effective in mobilising a concerted effort to safeguard the future.
Ralph A Tebbutt
- Good on the school climate strikers—our next generation.
What kind of world are we leaving them? What future are we setting them up for?
I hope they can do a better job than this generation of politicians who are a complete shower.
No division on Grenfell
I saw last Monday night’s BBC Dispatches programme on the fire brigade’s response to Grenfell fire.
As FBU union members and firefighters, we stand wholeheartedly in solidarity with the Grenfell survivors in their fight for justice.
This terrible tragedy had many causes.
Our response on the night saved lives. That does not mean we have nothing to learn. It does not mean training and policy cannot be improved.
But on the night we held nothing back.
Maintain the unity between firefighters and the victims of Grenfell.
Unity with migrants
Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey wrote an article in the New Statesman magazine last week where he opposed free movement of labour.
A couple of years ago I argued with Len at a union regional committee, and quoted a study that said migrants don’t bring down wages.
Len will agree that we should blame bosses not workers. But we oppose immigration controls because we oppose everything that divides workers.
Sometimes the best fighters can be our colleagues who are recent migrants. And the answer is to get everybody in the union to support every struggle.
I enjoyed reading Alex Callinicos’s obituary for Colin Barker. Colin wrote a book on Solidarity, the Polish trade union that shook the Stalinist regime in the 1980s.
My Polish uncle joined Solidarity when he worked on the shipyard of Gdansk.
He had previously been sent to the Gulag prison camps by Stalin.
Jeff Koons’s alienation
The last words on the art of Jeff Koons should go to the late Australian art critic Robert Hughes.
“Jeff Koons is to Andy Warhol as the baby was to Rosemary”, he wrote.
It was a reference to the horror film Rosemary’s Baby, where she gives birth to the spawn of Satan, but it’s not her fault.
Since that neat summing up, Koons has become famous not only for not making any of his work.
He has a factory full of workers doing that, but he has recently replaced many of them with robots.
They had tried to form a union in 2016, for which Koons sacked them.
So much for art as unalienated labour under capitalism.
Hypocrisy on Begum case
If Shamima Begum was Christian and white, would people have the same reaction to the Tory government stripping her of British citizenship?
- The British government should hang its head in shame over the Shamima Begum case.
The very systems that were supposed to support young people failed her because of the Conservatives’ ideological programme of savage cuts.
I do not support any attempt to strip this British citizen of her citizenship.
This must be contested in the courts here in Britain and in the European Union.
We need new by-elections
The Independent Group of MPs were happy to leave the Labour Party.
But they won’t stand down and run in by-elections.
Yet they bang on for a “People’s Vote”.
The lot of them are absolute charlatans.