OVER 300 University and College Union (UCU) striking lecturers and student supporters rallied and marched to the Royal Exchange Building in the City of London yesterday.
Speaking to News Line as they assembled in Tavistock Square, Development Studies lecturer Lisa Tulley said: ‘I’m quite lucky because I’m on a permanent contract.
‘But I’m here because of casualisation. There are so many of lecturers who are on hourly or short term contracts.
‘There’s no stability, no benefits or pensions for those groups.
‘We’re also here because of the pensions dispute. Our pensions have been undervalued – that means we’ll be retiring on poverty wages.
‘At SOAS, we’ve joined together with UCU and Unison. Across the board trade union membership and industrial action is vital to defend and win rights and benefits.
‘We would support a nurses’ strike. They’ve been treated so badly.
‘I’d support a general strike to bring down this Tory government – totally.’
London School of Economics (LSE) politics and sociology masters student Pietro Fioretta declared: ‘I’m here to support my lecturers on strike.
‘For me as a student, I don’t want my university to become a corporation.
‘Universities as businesses means contracts are terrible.
‘And because they don’t have enough money as a business they don’t have enough to pay their workers.
‘I wish all unions were going on a general strike to take down the Tories.’
Transport union RMT general secretary Mick Lynch addressed the Tavistock Square rally.
Bringing solidarity, he said: ‘This is a class struggle. We are starting the fight back against pay cuts, against pension cuts.’
He added that Tube workers are striking: ‘Hopefully we can coordinate with you and all the other unions.’
He went on to call on the TUC to ‘stand up where it counts, we are not going to do it through lobbying we have to do it on the streets’.
Meanwhile the UCU lecturers maintained a strong picket line outside Kingston University in Surrey throughout yesterday on the third day of their strike.
UCU Vice-Chair Rosie McNiece said: ‘I think we’re heading for a national public sector workers strike.
‘The GPs have just voted to go on strike, the majority of nurses want to strike, ambulance workers too.’