Socialist Students out nationwide for March 15 climate strikes
March 22, 2019
On 15 March, in 1,000 cities and 100 countries, millions went on strike and demonstrated against the huge threat to the environment and human populations posed by rapid climate change. These protests, against the failure of capitalist governments to agree meaningful environmental policies, were led by young people, in particular school students. This is the generation which will bear the brunt of catastrophic global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions from profit-driven capitalist industry, transport and agriculture.
Socialist Students and Young Socialists played an important role in building the 15 March protests and will continue this effort in the next round of protests.
Below, we carry 15 March reports from around Britain, and Socialist Students national organiser Theo Sharieff presents a socialist strategy for developing the youth strike protest movement.
Massive protests over catastrophic climate change - build for April 12!
Socialist Students is calling for the creation of school and college student unions to help students coordinate their next walkouts on 12 April and, importantly, to defend the right to protest. Hundreds of students signed up to Socialist Students for help with setting up such unions in the run up to 12 April.
Socialist Students also wants to take the movement forward by linking it in struggle with the working-class majority in society. Students pointed out on our open mic in London that it will overwhelmingly be working and middle-class people who pay the heaviest price if climate change continues unabated - through food and water shortages and climate-related poverty.
The super-rich - including last year the Kardashian-Wests in California - have the resources to protect their property, hiring private fire services to keep their mansions safe from wildfires. Working-class and young people are not so fortunate under similar circumstances.
That's why Socialist Students is calling for the trade unions to help organise and steward local protests on the next round of school strikes.
In London, well over 200 students left their details with Socialist Students to be put in touch with local trade unions and trade union councils for assistance with organising joint students' and workers' demonstrations against climate change in their local areas and towns.
Socialist Students is now setting out to officially establish local student unions to help organise students who want to build this movement, and will be looking to hold founding meetings of student unions over the coming weeks.
But we now must extend our movement by appealing to the trade unions, through new student unions or as Socialist Students, to weigh in on this battle.
We want to put central to this movement our demand that the Tory government is kicked out and replaced with a Corbyn-led government - a government which nationalises, under democratic workers' control and management, the big polluters, the energy companies, and the commanding heights of the economy as a matter of urgency, to introduce a socialist economic plan to halt and reverse climate change.
Theo Sharieff, Socialist Students national organiser
Students and young people in London once again filled Parliament Square - this time much bigger and even more vibrant.
Throughout the day, students and young people marched back and forth to Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. Holding their homemade placards as they marched, they called for immediate action to address climate change.
Trade unions, such as the RMT, were also present during the protest, giving support.
Socialist Students, aware of the importance of democratic debate to build this movement, set up an open mic to engage with young people about how we can go further. This proved to be very popular and a massive crowd formed around the 'red' sound system.
Although there was a wide spectrum of ideas, there was one argument that almost all agreed on: only mass action from below, linking up with trade unions and disrupting not only the traffic but the whole economy, has the potential to halt climate change.
Many agreed that profit-oriented big businesses would do nothing to halt climate change - and some students chanted "socialist change - not climate change".
More than 200 people signed up to Socialist Students to hear more from us. Many young people said they want to campaign in their schools and colleges to build for the next climate strike. We told them that we would be more than happy to provide materials and any other support they need.
Berkay Kartav, KCL Socialist Students
Defying threats of school fines and detentions, a huge turnout of around 3,000 students and young people marched in Brighton against climate change - more than double the attendance of last month's demonstrations.
Many students recognised the need for system change, and our specific slogan - 'socialist change, not climate change' - was well received. They were also enthusiastic about our call to form school and college student unions to organise the fight back, especially with the example of the recent strikes of our sister organisation in the Spanish state.
Young people across the country are realising that the Tories and the current capitalist system provide no solutions to the pressing problems we face, and in fact are the problem! Some of the biggest chants were "Tories out" and "oh Jeremy Corbyn".
Connor Rosoman, Brighton and Sussex Socialist Students
Around 200 young people braved the wet weather, taking to the streets to demand climate justice. In the main square, university and school students stepped up to our megaphone to share their thoughts.
Socialist Students had a strong, visible presence, and our placards were popular among the crowd. We marched through the city centre to the Guildhall behind a Young Socialists banner and led various chants which were enthusiastically picked up. We also distributed leaflets promoting our meeting on the 20th March, looking to keep up momentum from the strike by engaging young people with discussion of socialist solutions to climate change.
We also distributed leaflets promoting our meeting on 20 March to discuss socialist solutions to climate change.
At the Guildhall, the local climate strike movement demanded the council declare a climate emergency and disinvest from fossil fuels.
All in all, Friday’s protest had an excellent turnout and we are working to build further momentum and support for the protests in the months ahead.
Ellen Rosier, Swansea Socialist Students
Outside Leeds Town Hall, Victoria Square was packed with around 1,500 protesters, where students of all ages walked out of their classrooms, carrying signs and placards, to make their voices heard.
Spirits were high, and the crowd was determined. Both the Socialist Party and Socialist Students had a good showing, with a stall, leaflets and badges.
Passers-by were stopped by the chanting of the assembly and took pictures of the placards. Some took on a humorous tone, "Spill tea not oil", "Clean up planet Earth, it's not Uranus"! Others were more serious: "System change not climate change", and "There is no Planet B".
Around midday the assembly marched through Leeds, chanting and cheering, while onlookers voiced their support. We marched behind our banner and lead the chants.
Kai Trinder and Lilli Green, Leeds Trinity Socialist Students
Over 100 students protested at the Clock Tower, then marched to Jubilee Square. When we got there a student steward shouted at me and told me off for handing out leaflets for Leicester Young Socialists as they said the event wasn't meant to be political.
But everyone took our leaflet and they agreed with our slogan 'Socialist Change Not Climate Change'. Some of them were interested in coming to our next meeting
Climate change is a political issue. Capitalism always prioritises profit over the planet. This is why the only solution to global warming is a socialist fightback.
Bethany Morgan-Smith, Leicester Socialist Students
Around 500 school, college and university students gathered in central Manchester, demanding action to combat climate change. The atmosphere was one of anger and militancy.
Students as young at eleven were attending with parents, urging that our future cannot be jeopardised through another generation of destructive fossil fuel reliance.
There were, however, attempts to 'depoliticise' the strike. Certain environmental groups limited themselves to vague talk about simply 'acting' on climate change. This didn't stop many students from talking about the need to kick out the Tories and to put the 'planet before profit'! Our socialist ideas were received with keen interest.
A positive mood exists on these strikes for system change. We argued that to take immediate action to halt climate change, we have to take on the profiteers that drive the fossil fuel industry. This means socialist change, based on workers' democracy and public ownership - not a false 'green' capitalism!
Tom Costello, Manchester Socialist Students
Around 1,000 young people gathered outside Birmingham Council House for the climate strike demonstration. Socialist Students provided a socialist approach to combating climate change.
The march itself was short and sweet, plenty of noise, chants, whistles and handcrafted signs, all with an air of cheerful resistance.
Many bystanders were enthused that young people were taking action and an older man who'd asked for a leaflet proudly told me that he was a lifelong socialist and expressed his solidarity to the school strikers.
Many marchers talked about how the reaction by their schools wasn't too positive and they'd been threatened with detention - but it was quickly pointed out, if my school is underwater, detentions aren't as feasible anymore!
More than 60 people signed-up for more information. School students bought copies of the Socialist with their lunch money and every single leaflet handed out, the day was a resounding success.
Birmingham Socialist Students
From across the west of Scotland the second #youthstrike4climate drew 1,800 people to George's Square in Glasgow.
Many of the demonstrators were primary or secondary school students, as well as those in third-level education. Young workers were also present, with Unite the Union, the RMT and Glasgow Unison representatives all in attendance.
The protest was lively and colourful with many banners. The joint Socialist Party and Socialist Students stall was busy all morning, with many young people signing our petitions demanding nationalisation of the energy industry and taking up other climate issues.
Socialist Students and Socialist Youth will be assisting school students organising for the next strike on 12 April. It is important to stress the potentially huge role that the trade unions could play in this developing environmental movement.
To start with, we suggest calling on the teachers' unions to assist in the organisation of demonstrations and strikes at their schools and fight against any attempt to victimise striking school students.
Oisin Duncan, Glasgow Socialist Students
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Theresa May admits tuition fees system is broken - organise to kick out the rest of the Tories!