Higher education unions and students set to March for the Alternative

Members of higher education unions will take to London’s streets to join a day of protest against government cuts to public services, while students plan to inject some “radical spirit” via a feeder march.

March 25, 2011

The Trades Union Congress-organised “March for the Alternative” is expected to attract upwards of 200,000 protesters to the capital on 26 March.

Unions are hoping to create a broad front, uniting groups from across society against the coalition government’s budget cuts and plans to increase the private provision of public services.

Supporters of the government’s policies say the protest will be driven by “vested interests”.

The University and College Union, Unite and Unison have worked together to provide transport to the event for higher education members from across the UK, and said their members would be out in force.

Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, said its members would “show their opposition to the government’s punitive cuts”, as the measures would “punish the poorest and most vulnerable in our society”.

Mike Robinson, national education officer for Unite, said: “I am confident this will be the biggest demonstration involving Unite members in higher education institutions since the 1960s when the trade union movement mobilised to ‘Kill the Bill’ – the Tory anti-union legislation proposed by Ted Heath.”

The march will assemble on Victoria Embankment from 11am, proceeding to a rally in Hyde Park where there will be an address by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Student protesters will form their own feeder march at the University of London Union at 10am, although the TUC is encouraging protesters to stick to the authorised route.

Students have a plan to “turn Trafalgar Square into Tahrir Square” by staging a 24-hour occupation.

Michael Chessum, co-founder of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, one of the groups behind recent student protests and occupations, said he hoped there could be up to 10,000 students marching to inject some “radical spirit” into the event.

Asked about the potential for a repeat of violence on student demonstrations, he said that the “overwhelming use of force” at those events had come from “police kettles [and] police horse charges”.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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