Unions and students together defending pensions and public education

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The International Socialist League warmly applauds UCU members, who took the unprecedented decision to call 14 days of strike action in pre-92 universities to defend their pensions and the FE members who voted to strike over pay.
 
The pension deficit and the pro-Tory university employers’ solution of removing defined benefits is a con. ISL members tell us that driven by increasing anger UCU branch meetings have been large and union membership is growing while local and national student unions support the UCU strikes.
There is a possibility of joint strikes across the HE and FE sectors while Unite, Unison and GMB members say they will not cross picket lines. Liverpool University management have said they will not victimise non-UCU staff who do not cross the picket line. We urge all unions to call on their members to support the strike and where possible the picket lines.
The Higher Education and Research Act 2016 is part of the Tory plan to privatise HE (easier with big pension cuts) and FE. These attacks are the same throughout the world and messages of support for the strikes have been received from labour organisations in the USA and Palestine. There is a struggle for free public education with proper state funding across all continents – we have the same fight and face the same enemy.
Attacks on public education should bring all sectors closer together. For example, students have ever increasing debts and it is our duty as workers, trade unionists and socialists to support the fight to remove tuition fees and restore student maintenance grants.
The good news is that the fight back has begun with rail workers (RMT), bus drivers (UNITE), university cleaners and security staff in the London new unions. Like UCU members they recognise that only a hard fight can push back the neo-liberal programme.
The banks, big business and their representatives in government want to turn everything over to the City of London and the international markets. They want to remove all workers’ rights. This pension raid just like the PFI’s in hospitals, schools and rail franchises, is robbery by the most powerful and the richest.
We believe there is a rising mood in the working class to fight capitalism. Strikes and resistance across unions and sectors should increase and widen the struggle as much as possible.
The UCU will strike on 8 March, International Women’s Day linking the fight against pension inequality with the fight against oppression.
We cannot wait for a Labour government, the fight must escalate now so we call on Jeremy Corbyn to encourage all members to support the picket lines and that Labour councillors give unqualified support and assistance to the strikes.
The UCU can win by building local, national and international links in action!

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