Students rise up against fees

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Sheffield GMB provided a smashing fish dinner and 100 per cent solidarity with the Young Socialist marchers yesterday mid-day
Sheffield GMB provided a smashing fish dinner and 100 per cent solidarity with the Young Socialist marchers yesterday mid-day

THE Young Socialists March for Jobs and Free State Education had a great day in Sheffield yesterday.

The day started with the marchers splitting up into two campaign teams, one at the dole and the other at the university.

At the dole the team recruited a new marcher.

Josh Tow, aged 21, said: ‘Since I left college I’ve had warehouse and shop work, low paid and insecure.

‘My ambition was, and is, to go into archaeology and palaeontology. But I didn’t get the grades. But I still want to do it.

‘Youth unemployment is terrible. Most of the time when you apply for a job you are told you are left out of consideration because you haven’t got the experience.

‘But how can you get the experience without a job? It was bad enough before the onset of the credit crunch and it’s a lot worse now.

‘I’m joining the Young Socialists march to London.’

Katie, aged 17, added that she would march at least some of the way as well.

She said: ‘I was working at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital on a college course. I was there a year and what I found was that there are not enough appointment slots.

‘We had loads of patients ringing up for appointments and there were no slots.

‘There needs to be more resources for the NHS. There are so many people suffering and the waiting times are ridiculous.’

Katie’s friend, Bryony Colgrave, aged 16, added: ‘I had my EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) taken off me last week, just the week.

‘I’d got no money and I may lose it again this week as well, because my mum phoned in just 20 minutes too late.

‘And my family is really struggling. My dad’s got a job, but since the recession started, he’s had two grand taken off his annual wage. Business men can claim their taxes back, but my dad can’t.’

Several students at Sheffield University bought tickets for the Meet the March – News Line, Trotsky Anniversary Rally in London on 21st November.

Andrew Tromans, studying History and Politics, said: ‘I am in my first year. The benefits of publicly owned property cannot be denied.

‘I have spoken to students who are further ahead in their studies and they say that universities are becoming more and more like a business and less like a seat of learning.

‘We have to defend universities from the predatory nature of the corporations.

‘I support the YS march for jobs and free state education. You are making a stand and not being laissez-faire about it.

‘I intend to come to London and support the News Line rally.’

Olivia Jeffree, studying French and Chinese, said: ‘I’m attending the News Line rally because we have to protect university education for the next generation of students.

‘It must be a right not to pay for education at all. I feel resigned to the fact that I just won’t get the job that I want after graduation.

‘This is a sign about how our society is slipping backwards. We demand that education is free and that decent jobs are made available.

‘We have to look at what society will look like in 50 years time, not just in a year.’

At lunchtime, the marchers met up for a fish dinner supplied by Sheffield Municipal & Lighter Trades GMB S38 Branch.

GMB Regional Officer, Peter Davies, said: ‘If you’ve got young people who are willing to march from Manchester to London then the least the trade union movement can do is support them wholeheartedly.

‘We’re looking at a 30 per cent cut in our local authority funding, and that’s the minimum. That means we’re looking at 1,500-2,000 job cuts in the next three years.

‘Sheffield City Council is the biggest employer in Sheffield. The consequences for services will be devastating and the private sector will never be able to take up the slack.

‘The YS marchers are leading the way for the youth of today.’

Steve Welling, GMB S38 Branch Secretary, said: ‘Our officer, Pete, brought a letter about the march to our branch meeting on Monday. We discussed it under any other business and voted unanimously to welcome you with a fish dinner.

‘Unless we, as working people, challenge the right-wing press, we’re in trouble.

‘There’s got to be free state education and jobs for youth. I went to a careers event at my son’s school and there were 60 odd apprenticeship places available for all Sheffield school leavers, which amounts to thousands.

‘I say to the YS marchers, keep right on to the end of the road. I hope we’re all going to see a general strike.’

Today, the march is off to Chesterfield.