Friday, 26 November 2010

GUEST POST: Union leader reports from inside a student occupation

A book lies on one of the tables inside the occupation at London South Bank University (LSBU).
It's about the 1968 student revolts in Europe and there is a film running on one of the students’ laptops about the Situationists.
So the historical forebears of the current wave of student occupations across the UK is clear, yet these students are making entirely modern demands – no Con-Dem cuts, of course; no increases in tuition fees, of course; but in this language centre turned occupation centre at LSBU the students have specific demands for their ProVice Chancellor Phil Cardew.
They want no repeat of the recent ban on students’ meetings, restore second language teaching and convene a public meeting with students to discuss how they and teaching staff can agree alternatives to cuts.
The students’ organisation at LSBU is impressive.
They are disciplined and welcoming, with a mature understanding of the issues - and it is heart-poundingly exciting for me to get the chance to visit the occupation and meet them.
But there is no hiding the feeling of exhaustion and isolation among some of them.
Located in the unglamorous Elephant and Castle in south London, the LSBU students do not have the high profile - or the recent previous experience – of other London occupations such as at University College London (UCL) or the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
However, that probably makes them even more determined. They urgently deserve support from trade unions and other campaign groups.
It is impossible not to recognise the inspiring role which all the occupations and the student organisers are playing in the fast-growing coalition of resistance against cuts and the austerity agenda.
More traditional trade unions have masses to learn from them.
We live in historic times.
By Pete Murray, President, National Union of Journalists
Defend LSBU! Defend our Education! student blog
EXTRA: Solidarity message to students from Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) general secretary Mark Serwotka.
It would be good to hear other examples of links between workers and students in the last few days. Unity is everything.


  1. This is a really fantastic statement. Thank you Paul. At Manchester we're determined to stay in occupation although we currently have big problems in that we've being starved and frozen out of the building. Solidarity to all the protests around the country and hope to see as many people as possible at the coordination meeting tomorrow afternoon.

  2. Thanks for your comment Roscoe.
    It's Pete - not Paul - but I'm sure he'll be glad of your thanks.
    Have you had trade union support in Manchester?
    I understand you have a rally outside the Roscoe Building on Brunswick Street, Manchester, at 3pm today. Good luck with that.

  3. Just to add that it wasn't just El Presidente who visited occupations. I joined the victorious South Bank students as they ended their occupation yesterday and marched around the building. Today, I spoke to the UCL occupiers. Solidarity forever to all occupying students, you're an inspiration to us all.