Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 6 December 2010

6 December 2010

This Thursday, the youth will be taking to the streets for another day of protest, while MPs debate in the House over the best way to turn the screw on our already dilapidated education system.

Since the 10th November, when the first London students' march against the tripling of university fees caught everyone by surprise, the youth protest has gathered pace. There were more marches in dozens of cities, while high-schools and FE colleges joined the movement, against the Con-Dems' plan to slash the Education Maintenance Allowance.

The young protesters held out against the kettling of rioting police. They made their voices heard. "Fight Back!" was their slogan, during these marches. And they are right!

Free education - a right for all!

They are right because education cannot be allowed to be turned into a money-spinner, thereby limiting access to knowledge to a rich minority.

By introducing university fees, Labour did just that. And now the Con-Dems are following in Labour's steps, with this two-tier system in which the majority of students start off their working lives with huge debts due to exorbitant fees, which are only affordable for a small wealthy minority.

As if it was not in the interest of society as a whole that its youth, whatever their social background, should receive the best education available! As if this world did not need more doctors and qualified nurses, more engineers and architects and, why not, more poets and writers! As if real social progress did not require the tapping of all potential talents, in every walk of life!

By a cynical irony, the politicians, of all parties, who promote these exorbitant fees and the elitist education system they create, are the same ones who keep complaining about the NHS having to recruit medical staff from all over the world, due to the chronic shortage of doctors, technicians and nurses being trained in Britain.

The few billion "savings" the Con-Dems expect from their cuts in education, will cripple the future of our children. But what do the champions of this profit system care? They are not interested in the future of society, let alone in the future of the working class majority of the population. They are only concerned with the short-term profits of the banks and their rich shareholders.

Yet, these alleged "necessary savings" represent even less than the current annual profit of each one of the large British banks. Whereas, the cost of fully-funded free education benefiting everyone in society would be far cheaper than the bailout of the same banks. And from the point of view of the working class, it would be far more useful.

This is why we, workers, have every reason to give our wholehearted support to the youth who are voicing their anger in the streets today.

Fighting back, the only way forward

But the working class can do a lot more than just give its support to the youth protest.

Firstly, because, in front of a government which is bent on trying to prove that it really means business with its austerity programme, the youth will find it difficult to get what they are fighting for with their own resources. They will need the actual mobilisation of workers to back them up.

Second, and even more importantly, the youth protest is showing the way to the necessary fight back against the raft of attacks that this government is planning against the working class on behalf of the bosses.

So far, the union leaders' response to these attacks has been a spineless "wait and see" policy. The TUC's call for a national demonstration in March, without a clear agenda, let alone any clear objectives, is worse than inadequate. Even in the few cases where union leaders have been forced by circumstances to organise some form of action, like in the London Underground, they manage to confine workers to isolated, token strikes, which have not a chance in hell of being successful.

In the meantime, cuts are being implemented, in local services and in jobs. Opposing them on a local basis, in each local council, if not within each section of the workforce that comes under attack, may be necessary. But it is ineffective. Our enemy is highly organised and waging a concerted attack against our class. It must be confronted with a concerted counter-attack by all sections of our class, for us to have some chance of success.

In this respect, the youth are showing the way. Their protests are designed to take on the government's policy as a whole, not just its consequences in one particular school or university. Likewise, if we are to stop the offensive of the capitalists, it is their class and its policy as a whole, that we will have to take on.