Karen Barratt, former Councillor and St. Paul and Labour candidate for the ward in the upcoming election, writing on her support for the NUT strike at sixth form colleges including Peter Symonds in her own ward.
A few days ago, I stood on a picket line outside Peter Symonds College in Winchester. I’m not a teacher but my sons and grandson went there and I did A-levels as a mature student. So there I was, with badge and banner in solidarity with NUT members, part of a national strike against further funding cuts to sixth form colleges. Cuts which will impact courses, increase group sizes and limit opportunities for students. In worse case scenarios, colleges are facing mergers or closure. Under the Coalition, funding per student had already been slashed by 14% and the EMA (educational maintenance allowance),which helped poorer 16-year olds carry on to A-level, scrapped. Those who made it to university were rewarded with a huge increase in tuition fees. The Government’s onslaught on the young continues with the imminent closure of Sure Start centres throughout Hampshire. Even babes in arms, are picking up the tab for the Conservatives illconsidered austerity policies.
Where the old and sick are concerned it’s the same story of cuts in services. No longer a safety net for the vulnerable from cradle to grave. Disabled people are seeing their benefits reduced. Workers on minimum wage struggle to pay their bills. Social housing is disappearing and private rents are out of control. Even the professionals are being driven to take action. Recently I supported the striking junior doctors in Winchester. The same wet and windy day I attended a demo with other trade unionists at Southampton Job Centre against benefits sanctions. So more strikes, more pickets to come! No wonder the Government wants to legislate trades unions out of existence.