By Daire Cumiskey
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Workers support student encampments for Palestine

Stop The War has called another workplace day of action on Nakba Day, next Wednesday
Issue 2904
On the Warwick protest

On the Warwick university students’ encampment protest

The university encampments for Palestine are winning support from workers. And the trade union backing helps the argument that students can unite with the power of the working class.

Russell Whincup from Leeds City RMT branch told Socialist Worker, “Last Saturday the May Day march was combined with a Palestine protest. People waved Palestinian flags side by side with union branch banners representing Leeds trade unionists.

“After the demonstration, Leeds City RMT union branch invited a student from the encampment at Leeds university to address its next union meeting.

“At the meeting, there was full support for the students taking action over Palestine. To show our support, one RMT member suggested we donate £100 from the branch funds to the encampment.

“This was swiftly raised up to £300 and the branch unanimously voted to pass the motion to commit the branch funds to the university students.

“To follow it up, Leeds City RMT members plan to go to the Leeds encampment on Wednesday next week to mark Nakba day. I hope other union branches will follow what we have done.”

Another example of student and worker solidarity comes from Simon O’Hara, a member of Warwickshire NEU union. He saw in the Coventry Palestine Solidarity Campaign organising chat that the sound system had broken at the Warwick university student encampment.

Simon then raised it with the Warwickshire NEU local officers’ committee arguing that it had the funds to replace the equipment. Officers agreed and the new sound system was bought on Monday and was delivered to the encampment on Tuesday by an NEU member.

Full use of the sound system has been made since—making lots of noise on campus,  playing music  and helping to facilitate teach outs.

Simon planned to visit the encampment his week to show his solidarity with the students.

And student action is also lifting spirits in Gaza. Mondoweiss website reports that a few days before the Rafah invasion began, “The media spokesman for al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, Dr Khalil Al-Dakran, expressed thanks to US students on behalf of Palestinian doctors in a message he read at a vigil. 

“’This systematic Israeli crime has urged free people of the world and motivated their spirit of humanity, which resulted in a global movement rejecting genocidal war,’ he said, describing the uprising of university students as ‘a moral and humanitarian revolution’ aimed at lifting the injustice and genocide against the Palestinian people.

“’From beneath the rubble of homes, the tents of the displaced, the families of the wounded, and the shrouds of the martyrs, we extend our great thanks to these students and the teaching staff participating in defending Gaza against genocide,’ he added.”

There is a lot that workers can do to take this chance to build the movement for Palestine.

Every union branch can formally send support and money to students taking action. In every workplace, workers can put together a delegation to visit an encampment and ask to speak to bring greetings.

But most importantly workers should channel the inspiration from the students into taking action themselves. Four or six workers—or more—going to a student action can use that experience to argue for a protest for Palestine at their workplace. 

The best result would be a walkout, and a joint demo with students. But the crucial aim is for workers urgently to increase the level of resistance as Israel goes into Rafah and spurns a ceasefire.

Stop The War has called another workplace day of action on Nakba Day, next Wednesday. It should be a focus for united action for students and workers. 

Wednesday 8 May: Globalise the campus resistance: international student-staff assembly, 7.30pm, Register for Zoom link here and share

Hear from students and staff building encampments in Britain, the US, Paris and more.

Initiated by Goldsmiths for Palestine & University and College Workers 4 Palestine. Supported by Palestinian Youth Movement, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, UCU London Region, Leeds Student Against Apartheid Coalition, Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine & London Student Action for Palestine.

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