‘Students and lecturers on the streets – this is just the start!’

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Demonstrators show their determination to get wage rises that match or are bigger than the rate of inflation
Demonstrators show their determination to get wage rises that match or are bigger than the rate of inflation

OVER 2,000 FE lecturers, staff and students marched through central London yesterday demanding fair funding for colleges. They demanded fair pay for FE lecturers, shouting: ‘The money is there, we want our share!’

Jeremy Corbyn addressed the rally in Parliament Square where he pledged: ‘The next Labour government will introduce a national education service and take the commodity out of education. ‘College education is very important. It’s the pathway to liberation for young people, it’s the pathway for older people and the way that staff have been treated is disgraceful.’

He went on to say that young people face a dilemma when it comes to university education because of fees and debt. He pledged: ‘We will increase corporation tax to end university and further education fees for all time.’ He concluded: ‘We challenge the Tories on their claim that austerity is at an end. There will be no end to austerity as long as this lot are in office.’

National Union of Students President Shakira Martin, said: ‘We call on the government to invest in your students. We have been underfunded for years by this government. We need our teachers to be properly paid. ‘Today we have students and lecturers on the streets. This is the start of something.’ She concluded: ‘What do we want? Fair funding! When do we want it? Now!’

UCU President Vicky Knight declared: ‘We’re here to tell those people in the Houses of Parliament, Whitehall and the Treasury, we’ve had enough of your stinking cuts to further education. ‘If they want a future they need to invest in colleges.’

Unison member Karen Fisher, a learning support worker, told News Line: ‘It’s outrageous that the government has cut back FE spending by 15%. ‘I doubt if any of the Tory cabinet have had to send their children to an FE college. ‘They don’t care about the working class. We need FE most.’

Hammersmith and Fulham College student Ruben Efamba (21) said: ‘We’re here supporting our college. ‘We are part of an inclusive learning scheme. We are worried that our scheme will be cut as part of the funding cuts. ‘The unions should take action. If there’s no other option they should go on strike.’

Angela Heffernan, New City College lecturer, said: ‘We’ve been merged with Hackney and Redbridge. ‘We’re here to tell the government they mustn’t forget us. ‘We provide an important service for people who won’t necessarily be educated through other means. ‘There shouldn’t have to be strike action to fund FE, but if it comes to it, there will have to be.’