Friday, 3 July 2009

Tower Hamlets College: a fight for the public sector

Richard McEwan, secretary of the UCU branch at Tower Hamlets College, was a speaker in the opening rally - attended by over 1000 people - of the Marxism festival last night. Staff and students at the college are battling agianst cuts, especially to the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses. Their militant campaign has included protests, walkouts and occupations - and it continues to build momentum. The report of Marxism's opening rally, online here, quotes Richard saying:

“The three and a half weeks since the cuts were announced have been the most intense and exciting that I can remember,” he said. “We have had unofficial walkouts, student protests, a huge march through Tower Hamlets and we will be on strike tomorrow.

“There has been an audacious level of resistance at Tower Hamlets. But we know that the biggest fight is coming in September – and we need to link up with the rest of the public sector to win it.”

He is absolutely right that the autumn will see more struggles in education and across the public sector. The dispute at Tower Hamlets College indicates how those who work in or use public services are being made to pay for the crisis. But it is also a signpost to the potential resistance that we can mount in response.

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