‘Occupation makes us strong’, shouted over 3,000 students and their supporters as they marched through University of Sussex campus yesterday to stop privatisation.
Banners from University of East Anglia, University of Sussex UCU, The Labour Representation Committee and a huge banner spelling out ‘Communism’ were carried and a lively delegation from the Young Socialists Students Society with their banner, won support for a General Strike to bring down the Coalition.
The march ended with an occupation of Sussex House, the university’s administration building.
Students held the police at bay in a stand-off and continued in a further stand-off while police kitted themselves out with riot gear.
At a rally before the march the students made clear their determination to fight privatisation, and the transfer of 235 university staff to a private company.
One of the speakers, Maia Pal, told the rally: ‘I am a here as a member of teaching staff. I am on a minimum wage fixed-term contract, soon to be unemployed, like more and more academics today.
‘Paradoxically, this is why I’m not scared of speaking out against management. The fact is they can’t make me much worse off.
‘This campaign has revealed the reality and implications of privatisation, for all of us in education. The management here sacked 110 academic staff two years ago.’
Addressing the student occupiers, she declared: ‘You have continued to fight. You are why we are here today.
‘Thousands of people from cleaners, to professors, local residents, to world famous supporters are saying “No!”.
‘No! to an absolutist managerial elite, arrogantly controlling our public institutions.
‘We say “Yes!” to students, workers, lecturers and job seekers, to get together to protect their class.’
Michael from the National Campaign Against Fees and cuts told the crowd: ‘Across the country, they are turning our universities into factories and shops.
‘What they are doing will take us back to the 19th century.
‘This occupation looks more like the future. We are fighting for nothing less than the liberation of humanity.’
RMT Brighton and Hove City branch secretary Gary Hassell brought solidarity to the Occupation. He told News Line: ‘We are facing the same privatisation and cuts.’
Sussex University student Hannah said: ‘We hope in the next six months we see students and workers coming out. Take over your campuses and work places.’
Greg Parson said: ‘I am one of the 235 members of staff who are threatened with the sack.
‘I’d like to thank all those from around the world who have supported the occupation and especially thank the occupation. It should be an inspiration to us all.
‘It is part of a wider campaign against privatisation.’ He announced: ‘We will fight by all means possible. Staff have got together and formed a union specifically to fight against this privatisation.
‘We are going to fight as far as we can and push for industrial actions.’
Other speakers included Caroline Lucas the local Green Party MP and Scottish Labour MP Katie Clarke.