Academics at forefront of anti-war protests

March 21, 2003

Academics and students were in the vanguard of anti-war protests this week as military action against Iraq got under way.

Lecturers' union Natfhe urged members to take part in "appropriate action where they can express opposition to the war, and also be sensitive to the feelings of staff and students who may have a variety of views, particularly those from Muslim and Jewish communities".

At University College London, staff and students from five departments took part in a lecture boycott and staged teach-ins on aspects of the war.

Staff at the University of Gloucester voted in favour of one-hour lunchtime protests, while lecturers at the College of North West London and Tameside College prepared to stage rallies.

Academics threatened with dismissal if they conducted anti-war strikes at Southampton University offered to have their pay docked instead to contribute to refugee charities.

The National Union of Students urged all students to voice their opposition to the "needless bloodshed" of the war by attending the second Stop the War march in London on Saturday.

Meanwhile, four members of the House of Commons' education and skills select committee were among MPs who voted against prime minister Tony Blair's motion to back a military campaign. They are Labour MPs David Chaytor, Valerie Davey and Kerry Pollard, as well as Conservative member Andrew Turner.

Ian Gibson, chair of the House of Commons' science and technology committee, and committee members Brian Iddon and Desmond Turner also voted against the motion.

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