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A week on: what next?

December 16, 2010

Protesters take on the Vodafone tax dodgers

The last update we brought you on this blog was from inside the occupied space at Glasgow University, as we prepared for a day of protest against the vote to raise tuition fees for English students. A week on, it’s worth looking back on what an extraordinary day last Thursday was.

Firstly, the government proved that it just doesn’t care what students think, or what they and they’re families can afford. They’re absolutely determined to shift the costs of education on to students, as part of their plan to slash public spending and reshape our society in favour of the rich. Despite the massive opposition there is from students and society as a whole, they voted last Thursday to push up the cap on the cost of tuition for students to a shocking £9000.

As we all know, the Lib Dems have particular reason to be ashamed. At the last election they promised to scrap tuition fees, but now are the ones responsible for hiking it up. Some of their MPs, too gutless to vote against the government, decided to abstain instead, thinking this would make them look good. It doesn’t – if the abstainers had had the spine to vote against, then the rise could have been stopped.

But those of us who were out protesting never had too many illusions that the government would listen to students, and are absolutely committed to stepping up the fight for free education in the New Year. Last Thursday we were busy as well, with an incredibly successful protest in the city centre.

Those of us who’d slept on the floor of the Glasgow uni occupation rallied outside in the morning, before marching to town to meet up with others at the Royal Concert Hall steps on Buchanan Street. There we heard speeches from school and university students, holding a successful rally that slowly grew despite the freezing cold weather.

Billionaire tax dodger Philip Green is spending our cash on holidays with Simon Cowell

After that, around 300 of us marched down Buchanan Street, and began our tour of tax dodging companies, such as Vodafone (with shops on Buchanan St., Argyle St. and Sauchiehall St.,) who were notoriously let off a £6 billion unpaid tax bill by the government, and the Arcadia Group, which owns a string of well known high street shops such as Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Ann Summers. Its owner, billionaire Philip Green, is a top Tory adviser on the cuts – but he himself is hiding his money away in Monaco, cheating his way out of paying a fair share.

Other targets for us included several banks, as they were the ones that started the whole crisis now being used to justify the cuts, as well as an army recruitment shop where we chanted “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation.”

The point of all this was to highlight how much the rich are able to flaunt the law and hide their wealth, getting away with breaking the law when it comes to tax. The government’s whole argument for cuts is made ridiculous when you realise how much money they just let the Philip Green’s of this world keep to themselves. If the government won’t do anything about it, we will, and that’s why we shut down the shops – so we could hit the owners where it hurts, in their profits.

Despite the fact that there weren’t as many people there as we would have hoped because of the appalling weather, our protest was wildly successful. We circled the city centre 5 or 6 times, forcing the tax dodging companies to close their stores and lose money. The police repeatedly tried to contain and kettle us, but were completely unprepared for a group of determined students who wanted to take direct action.

The police’s behaviour was the only low point of the day. Two protesters arrested on the day are appealing for any witnesses to come forward and help them counter the police version of events in court – for more details see here, and if you have any information that could help please contact glasgow_frfi@yahoo.co.uk. At the end of the march the police were finally successful in kettling a group of protesters in George Square, directly opposite the entrance to the city chambers. They held people here in the freezing cold for over an hour, before only releasing people in small groups and demanding they give their names and details. Their tactics were about political intimidation, pure and simple.

At our follow up meeting we discussed how we felt the day had gone and what our next steps should be. It was the first time we’d met as a group without a pressing need to organise an upcoming protest, and it’s only natural that things will wind down and bit over Christmas and New Year. As a result, we were able to discuss how we intend to use the group and how we will develop it from here. Here’s some points we agreed:

– We’re going to start doing regular Saturday stalls, starting this weekend (Sat 18th). We’ll be at the top of Buchanan St., by the Donald Dewar statue, from 12, handing out info to the public and trying to get more people involved. Some of us will also be meeting up beforehand (11ish) at Caffe Nero just nearby on Sauchiehall St., to talk through what we’re going to say and how to put our case.

There’s also a UK uncut day of action taking place on Saturday meeting in the same area at 10, so hopefully we’ll be able to support that while we’re out and about as well.

– Key to strengthening GAEC in the New Year is going to be increasing participation from staff and from all Glasgow’s educational institutions. So, we’re going to start a process of mapping where every school, college and university is in Glasgow, and actively trying to get in touch with people there. Where there aren’t any pre-existing anti-cuts groups, we’ll help in setting them up or providing a space for people to organise through GAEC. We’re also going to approach education and support trade unions to invite them to come and take part.

Everyone can help in this process – get in touch where you study or what institutions are near where you live, and we can start working out where we have people and how to start making new contacts. Invite every student and staff member you know, and let us know how you get on!

– We’re also going to start getting ourselves in contact with the wider struggle against ALL public sector cuts. That means we’re looking for trade unionists, community groups, and social and campaigning groups, so that we can start a dialogue, work out how we can support each other and how the new student mass movement can add its weight to the overall fight against cuts.

The next meeting, it was agreed would be on Monday January 10th, details to be confirmed.

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Glasgow Uni occupied against fees & cuts!

December 8, 2010

The occupied theatre space

At 1pm this afternoon, around 100 students and university staff occupied the G12 Gilmorehill theatre at Glasgow University.

Students from schools, colleges and unis from across the city are now in attendance and preparing to spend the night in the occupied space.

The students have released the following statement:

We, the occupants of Glasgow University, made up of past and present students ofeducational facilities across Glasgow, offer our support and backing to all those resistingthe current government’s ideological attack on our public services and the welfare state.

As a predominantly student led movement we act in solidarity with: other students inoccupation across the country; teaching and administrative staff facing redundancies andfunding cuts; and the next generation of students, who will be hit far harder by these cutsthan ourselves.
We also recognise that the attacks on education are part of a wider attack on the welfarestate. These cuts disproportionately target the most vulnerable members of society andare instigated by a coalition government acting without a democratic mandate. We standin solidarity with workers, the unemployed, pensioners and all those who will be adverselyaffected by our government’s proposals.
We offer our support to all those across Europe facing similar cuts as we recognisethat these problems are not confined solely to Britain. We believe a fairer alternative ispossible.
This is only the beginning. Our demands are as follows:
Educational:
1. No privatization of our university, or any universities.2. No businessmen on the University Senate.3. Support for students victimized by the police.
National:
4. A statement of active lobbying for completely free education, education from tax,not personal contribution.5. That the Universtiy provides a forum for discussing and fighting the logic of cuts.6. That the University acts on behalf of students and staff, not as their unelectedmanagers.
The Glasgow University Occupation

Follow the occupation on twitter & facebook and come to tomorrow’s city-wide demonstration – 12pm at Buchanan Street!

Walkout against fees and cuts this Thursday

December 6, 2010

This Thursday (December 9th) the UK government is bringing its plans to increase tuition fees to up to £9000 a year to parliament to be voted on.

Across the country students will be protesting this attack on our right to education. In Glasgow, we’ll be organising protests to show that we reject cuts, and that we stand in solidarity with English students facing fee increases – because we know if they get away with it there we’ll be next. We’ll also be demanding that the scrapping of EMA is overturned.

We need YOU to walk out of your school, college or university this Thursday, and join us from 12pm on the Royal Concert Hall steps at the top of Buchanan Street. We want to show the government they can’t get away with stealing our future. If you’re a worker in the city centre come out and join us on your lunch break.

Over the next couple of days we want to try and take leaflets and posters for the protest to as many of Glasgow’s places of education that we can cover. Please download them, print them off and use them. Let us know where’s been done. If you have any time to spare then get in touch and let us know. Invite everyone you know to come and be part of it, spread the word far and wide.

This is the big one. Let’s make sure they know we’re angry.

Leaflet for December 9th

Poster for December 9th

A4 Vodaphone Fact Sheet

A4 Philip Green/Arcadia Fact Sheet

Emergency meeting – what to do on ‘Day X’

December 4, 2010

The government has announced that the vote on increasing tuition fees for students in England will take place on Thursday 9th December.

Weeks of protest have been leading up to this crucial political turning point, and the student movement across the UK is gearing up to try and put the most pressure on the Con Dem coalition.

Glasgow Against Education Cuts has called an emergency Glasgow wide meeting on Sunday 5th December, from 2-5pm upstairs in the Piper Bar on Cochrane Street (on the corner of George Square near the City Chambers.)

We want to have a mass meeting of students and staff from every school, college and university in the city to work out how we can plan action in Glasgow to take part in a nationwide day of protest.

Please come down and add your voice to making a safe and effective plan for how we can protest. The draft agenda with some of the things we need to discuss is below

Provisional Agenda (to be decided):

What on the 8th?
What on the 9th?
Route
Destinations
Stewarding
Observers
Medics
Likely policing
Speakers
Adverse weather conditions
Timings

Invite EVERY student and staff member you know. The meeting is open to all, so please come down even if you’re not currently involved in education but want to help. See you there!

Flyer for next meeting

December 1, 2010

Here’s the flyer for the next meeting. Print this out on one side of A4, chop it in half and you’ll have two flyers. Get them everywhere. Let us know how you get on!

GAEC-leaflet-13dec

Welcome!

November 30, 2010

Glasgow Against Education Cuts is a new group that aims to bring together students and staff from all Glasgow’s schools, colleges and universities who are opposed to cuts.

We aim to meet at least every couple of weeks in order to plan joint action and mobilise for mass demonstrations and direct action. We also want to start educating ourselves about why the cuts are taking place, how we can stop them, and how we can develop an alternative model of education.

The group has been set up after the inspirational national day of action against cuts and fees on November 24th. In Glasgow, this saw students walk out of university, to be joined by college students and spontaneously organised school strikes from across the city.

Now we want to bring all these groups together to begin developing a real alternative. Over the next two weeks we’ll be travelling around Glasgow to try and get as many people involved in our next meeting as possible. Look forward to seeing posters and flyers in your place of education. We need your help to spread the word any way you can – invite every student or staff member you know. We’ll have materials uploaded here soon which you can download and print off for use where you are. Let us know how you get on in the comments!

Although the group is focused primarily on education for now, we stand in solidarity with everyone affected by the cuts, and welcome participation from anyone who’s interested – you don’t have to be a student or staff member to come along, and we’d very much welcome communication and support from everyone fighting back against the government.

In the meantime, we want you to let us know what you think the group should be doing. How can we resist the cuts to our education? How can we develop our own alternative models of education? What skills can you offer to help? How can you help build Glasgow Against Education Cuts?

NEXT MEETING: MONDAY DECEMBER 13TH, 5.30pm, CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS, 350 SAUCHIEHALL STREET