April Holcombe and Jenna Schroder
The National Day of Protest on May 17 against the Liberals’ proposed fee hikes was a tremendous success. Thousands of students took to the streets around the country, including disrupting a fancy lunch for Malcom Turnbull in Brisbane. It was a large, public, defiant blow to the Liberals who are on shaky ground and whose cuts to universities are opposed by a majority of the population.
More than 300 rallied on Usyd campus and marched to UTS with rebellious energy – in fact, we had the single largest campus turnout in the country. Activists and the Education officers did a huge amount of work leafleting, postering, lecture bashing and talking to students about the massive cuts, how they affect us, and why protests can stop it. Several smaller stunts in the lead up took excellent advantage of the transient media interest in students, with coverage on multiple occasions by ABC, SBS, Nine, Ten, Seven, SKY, 2GB, AAP, the Australian, Buzzfeed, and Junkee.
Since these attacks have not gone away and we have a lot more beyond that to fight for, the National Union of Students is preparing for a follow up protest on August 16, and we will need to see the same organising effort as this time.
But also on the Education Departments agenda is the crucial task of supporting staff against management’s attack at a local level. The NTEU is quickly moving towards industrial action in the face of proposals by the bosses for forced redundancies, de facto individual contracts for academic staff, and further erosion of rights for casuals. NTEU members are ready to strike if management do not back down on all attacks and if they do not accept all the union’s demands. This level of determination from workers is truly excellent and must be matched by students in solidarity. Come to EAG meetings on Thursdays at 1pm to discuss this campaign and more.
Written by April Holcombe.