Several thousand workers and students across Britain joined protests and walkouts for Palestine on Wednesday.
It was the second workplace day of action called by Stop The War, one of the organisers of the London marches.
Over 100 workers and students protested outside Westminster Kingsway College in central London. UCU union members and students at City and Islington College, north London, protested to demand, “Ceasefire now.”
And around 100 held a lunchtime protest outside Tower Hamlets college, east London. Speakers defended the chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”—which supporters of Israel smear as antisemitic.
Workers at Stoke Newington School in Hackney, east London, protested outside with Palestinian flags. And NEU union members at the BSix sixth form college in the same borough held signs demanding, “Ceasefire now,” outside.
NEU and Unison union members at a south London nursery school protested outside at the start of the day.
Up to 100 people, mainly college students, attended a STW lunchtime meeting on Palestine in Bury, Greater Manchester. And workers at Bradford college rallied at lunchtime with their UCU union banner.
Around 300 Edinburgh students walked out of lectures for Palestine—the eighth week of walkouts at the university. Members of the EIS, UCU and Unite unions and Edinburgh trades council joined the protest.
A UCU union rep left a staff meeting to join the protest—and gave a speech calling for workers and students to step up action.
At Glasgow university students crashed the graduation ceremony and chanted, “Glasgow uni, shame on you, you have blood on your hands too.”
There was a “die-in” at the London School of Economics (LSE) where students wrapped the university Christmas tree with a massive sign that read, “Ceasefire now.” Students had marched from KCL and SOAS universities to get to the die-in.
Around 150 students walked out of lecture theatres and marched in Birmingham, and another 200 took part in a demonstration at Cambridge university. There were also student walkouts at Leicester and Warwick universities.
Around 25 workers at St George’s Hospital in south London protested outside with Palestinian flags and placards. One health worker, who organised the lunchtime protest, said Israel’s bombing of Gaza is a “crime against humanity and not an act of self-defence”. “We’ve picked our side to stand with the oppressed,” he said.
Health workers at Dorset County Hospital protested at lunchtime alongside supporters of the Islamic Centre and Dorset Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. Workers at Royal Stoke Hospital staged a lunchtime gathering inside, waving a Palestine flag. Staff at the Homerton in east London showed their solidarity with Palestine.
Postal workers in the CWU union at Stansted Airport held up posters that read, “Ceasefire now”.
Around 200 culture workers gathered outside the Southbank Centre in south London. Organisers had stressed the action was “a walkout, a withdrawal of labour and a downing of tools.” And around 30 people attended a protest organised by the PCS union outside the Houses of Parliament.
Some 30 students and workers from the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moore’s university held a protest in university square. Jewish anti-Zionist Saira Weiner—the UCU Left candidate for UCU general secretary—called for union leaders to build the movement for Palestine.
Around 200 students from the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan and Salford universities protested in the city centre. UCU members also joined the protest. Students called out the property company Fisher German, which rents buildings out to the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems.
The day of action could have been much bigger if the union leaders had pushed for it—but they have been slow at best, an obstruction at worst, over Palestine.
It’s right to take action now and put pressure on the unions to do much more. Everyone should push for whatever action they can win in their workplaces, whether that’s holding up signs inside or a lunchtime protest. If you held up signs inside your workplace this time, can you go further next time? Start talking to people about it now.
And use what action you can get to build support for the more militant action we need—walkouts that defy the anti-union laws and take on Israel’s backers in Downing Street.