UCU members have fought tenaciously over the course of the last three weeks. Thousands have joined the union, taken part in the action, and built the strike. As well as taking on UUK, our lecturers have also been forced to mobilise to prevent right-wing sections of their union’s leadership pushing through a derisory agreement with the employers - against the overwhelming sentiment of the strikers. Undoubtedly, student support has played an important part in boosting the confidence and determination of UCU members. Now we need to step up the solidarity. Across the country, students have turned out to our local picket lines. We need to continue to increase this presence. But we also need to escalate our action. In Leicester, Bristol, UCL and elsewhere, students have already taken part in occupations against university management. Now we must build for a wave of student occupations and protests across the country. These can be used to increase the pressure on university managements and fat-cat VCs. They can act as organising bases. If they are outward-looking and determined, and organised alongside UCU members, they can help widen the student participation in picket lines, rallies, protests and other actions. Because this strike is not only about pensions. It’s about years of vicious attacks on pay. It’s about ruthless marketisation across the sector. It’s about sky high fees. It’s about cuts. It’s about the rotten austerity agenda. It’s about ou rutal Tory governmnet and all their hated policies. It’s about fighting for education - not profit.
Strike action is the most powerful tool working people have at their disposal to fight against the bosses. We know that UUK are on the run. That’s why the attempted capitulation by UCU’s more conservative leaders was so outrageous.
As students, we have a tremendous amount to gain from this struggle. A victory for our lecturers could act as a catalyst for a mass movement in defence of education. A movement that could go on the offensive - demanding free education, living grants, an end to marketisation and fair pay and pensions for all education workers. Such a movement would threaten not just the overpaid university bosses represented by the likes of UUK, but our weak, divided Tory government itself. We need to fight for a socialist education system. For education that is fully funded, publicly owned, democratically run and universally free at all levels.
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