Over 1000 teachers, lecturers and college students marched through central London on Wednesday 17 October to demand the end to Tory cuts and austerity in education. Organised by the University and Colleges Union (UCU) and UNISON, people mobilised from around the country to march and to lobby MPs in Parliament to demand the end of the harsh funding squeeze which has gripped FE colleges for years.
Marching from Waterloo Place to Parliament Square, the streets were filled with chants of “Theresa May, where’s our pay!” and “The money’s there, we want our share!” Despite the wet weather the youthful turnout of students from FE colleges across the country lifted the mood of the marchers. Leaflets calling for the building of a united student and workers movement to kick out the Tory government as the only solution to the funding crisis quickly disappeared from the hands of Socialist Students members.
Nearly a decade of Tory austerity and woefully inadequate funding for FE has meant job cuts, pay cuts, and the spiralling of workloads for teachers. Schools face identical problems. The National Audit Office said in 2016 that by 2019-2020 schools will have to make funding cuts amounting to £3 billion, meaning increased class sizes, cuts to educational resources for children and more work, less pay, and worse conditions for staff.
At the same time, the rich have continued to rake in super profits while the lives of staff and the futures of children are thrown down the drain – the top CEOs in Britain in 2017 received an 11% pay rise!
Today’s march will only add to the Tory’s fears that a new movement for education is spreading. Earlier this month, 1,000 head teachers marched through central London, effectively taking strike action, to demand an 8% increase in schools funding to end the onslaught against our schools that is destroying our children’s education. And on October 22, the results of a nationwide ballot of lecturers in 167 universities by the UCU, who are struggling against real terms pay cuts and casualisation of work, will be announced.
Socialist Students stands shoulder to shoulder with lecturers, teachers, support staff and students in all our schools, colleges and universities fighting for their futures. Students and workers, let’s unite and strike together to kick out the Tories!