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Letters: Students and strikers— natural fit on picket lines

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A Liverpool student shares their experience on the picket line
Issue 2826
strikes students

Students in Liverpool support the strikes

I am in my second year at the University of Liverpool and I want to tell other students that going to picket lines is a great thing to do if you are a socialist. Many students are a bit scared of joining in with striking workers because they think the pickets will dismiss them.

Or, they worry that this is something you can only do if you have a big delegation of student supporters alongside you. Some might even think that workers are hostile to students, believing we cannot comprehend what they are going through.

That’s not my experience—far from it. Picket lines during the dockers’ strike in Liverpool recently could not have been more welcoming. They were keen to talk to us and offered food and drinks.

And today, I’ve just come back from a picket line of further education workers in the UCU union. They invited me to speak to their impromptu street rally to deliver a message of support from students. The strikers applauded me on the way up to the mic and after I’d finished.

In Liverpool, we’ve made a big banner that reads, “Students support the strikes” and that really helps break the ice. We have discussions with the strikers about the issues they are facing, and about what we have in common. There is a genuinely happy mood on the picket lines, with many strikers saying how good it is to be fighting alongside others.  And that’s another reason why they like students coming down to join them.

I can tell you how great it is to be on a strikers’ picket line, but to really understand what I mean you need to experience it for yourself. It’s crucial to show solidarity with workers—these are people’s mothers and fathers, and they don’t deserve the disrespect they are being shown by the bosses and the government.

After all, it’s only because of workers’ efforts that society keeps on running.

Ravi Campbell


New boss won’t kill resistance

The university where I work is known for its radicalism. Around the main buildings of the School of African and Oriental Studies you can expect to see banners and posters issuing calls to action. Often there are protests and stalls around the entrance encouraging people to participate in struggles.

The atmosphere that creates has been a big part of what attracts students to study here—and makes it a good place to work. But all of that is now under threat.

Our new boss is called Adam Habib. The vice chancellor came to us from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa with a reputation for smashing student protests. During the magnificent Fees Must Fall campaign there in 2015-17, Habib called in riot police.

They truncheoned their way through barricades and beat protesters. Now he is in Britain, he wants to try the same thing here. Habib has ordered the removal of students’ noticeboards, posters and banners. 

And recently he banned our Unison union from picketing outside our own place of work, claiming that the university owns the property and that strikers were trespassing.  Some 30 security guards forced us back, but students came to our aid. They mounted a protest on campus in support.

Habib will not kill the spirit of resistance here.

Name withheld

Soas university, London

Bosses push rugby danger 

Research confirms professional rugby players are at least twice as likely than other people to develop neurodegenerative brain disease. A recent BBC documentary about former Leeds Rhinos player Rob Burrow shed light on the terrible toll this can have.

Across both codes of rugby, ex-players are bringing lawsuits against their governing bodies. Writing to league bosses, former players stated the body should “take reasonable care for their safety” by establishing protocols for investigating head injuries.

This has since happened. But despite the known risk to players, Rugby Union is considering expanding the number of games in a season to feed owners’ and broadcasters’ appetites.

In Rugby League, there are proposals for a reduction in the number of games. GMB Rugby League union rep, Gareth Carvell, rightly hailed this as being “better for players, their safety”.

Rugby Union should take note. 

Tom Kay


 Can we have TV programmes that bite? 

When was the last time you heard the words “climate change” on a TV drama or in a film? Can’t remember? I’m not surprised. The University of Southern California have just published research that shows the phrase was used in less than 1 percent of scripted TV and film released between 2016 and 2020.

Worse still, the keywords words associated with global warming were found in just 2.8 percent of scripts. The word “dog” was mentioned almost 13 times as frequently as all 36 climate words combined—I love a pooch, but come on!

I get that for most people TV and film are escapism, a distraction from the horrors of the world around us. And I don’t want climate change keywords inserted into everything I watch. But surely the threat of the extinction of our species —and millions of others—is worthy of note?

Drama and film can play  a vital role in the struggle for a better world. But it requires skill to turn make art rather than mundane propaganda. So my question to screen writers and directors is, can you make programmes that take up real issues but aren’t boring?


North Yorkshire

What next after Ukraine?

Has the time come for us to think about what happens when Russia loses its disastrous war in Ukraine? The US will feel restored after the defeats of Iraq and Afghanistan. Its threats against China and others will be amplified. 

In short, the defeat of one brutal dictator will lead to the victory of another—in Washington.

Jody Street


Best kept apart?

Your article on the recent troubles in Leicester (Socialist Worker, 28 September) paints Muslims as innocent victims and Hindus as violent perpetrators. But here in India, the news reports of the events tell us the exact opposite.

However sad, the fact is that Hindus and Muslims are incompatible communities. That’s why the British were right to separate us with Partition. 

Krish Khatri

West Bengal, India

Should I burn my furniture?

The Guardian newspaper ran an interesting feature last week on how to reposition your furniture to save on your fuel bills. Frankly, when my provider told me recently that my annual bill was going to be upwards of £3,500, I thought it might be better if I just burnt all my possessions to keep warm.

Toby Legend


Shhh! Don’t mention Covid

Covid infections in Britain are rising by 14 percent week on week, with more than a million people currently sick with the virus. But don’t expect to hear anything about this in the media. They’ve long since decided the pandemic is past tense.

That’s not the case for 2.3 million people living with Long Covid though, is it?

Louise Laws

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