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National Days Of Action For Free Education

NATIONAL DAYS OF ACTION FOR FREE EDUCATION - The Hui in Ham

The Fightback Hui in Ham brought together over sixty activists from all over Aotearoa, to plan the next phase in the fight for Free Education. Activists from Auckland University, AUT, the University of Waikato, Victoria University, Waikato Polytech, Massey and Canterbury met over the Easter weekend, and reconfirmed the 10 goals of the national campaign first put forward in Wellington. These are-

1. Free Education for all by taxing the rich (top 5%) and corporates.
2. Universal Student Living Allowances.
3. The scrapping of all student debt.
4. Immediate reinstatement of the emergency unemployment benifit.
5. An end to the Privatisation Agenda on campus.
6. Democratic control of tertiary institutions by student and staff.
7. Adequate government funding to tertiary providers.
8. Adequate research funding not controlled by corporates.
9. No cops on campus.
10. Removal of all non financial barriers, including, but not limited to women, Maori, Pacific Islanders, international, queer and disabled students.

The Hui resolved to take two days of action in the upcoming months to bring our demands to the local Labour party and the national Labour led government. After the recent debate with Fightback on the Waikato campus, Education Minister Steve Maharey admitted that Labour MPs had beifitted from free education themselves and had not entered the workplace with huge debts. We want to bring this to national attention and to make clear to the government that this generation of students will not wait for an undefined "gradual change" within "the next three terms of government" (Maharey's words). In effect, this is an admission by Labour that students can expect another 9 years of debt, loans and fees- another decade of the problems we face today.

The first National Day of Action for Free Education will take place on the 31st of May. In addition to raising the 10 demands, we will be calling for the immediate sacking of Christine Rankin, the scrapping of the WINZ loans scheme, and stressing the need for a Universal Student Living Allowance and the restoration of emergency benifit for students during holidays. "Sack Rankin Day" will look for wider support from the trade unions, community assocations, campus staff and local city councils. Rallies on campus will march to local Labour Party offices, with Wellington to march on the Beehive.

The government and Labour Party will be given time to respond- we will make it clear that we are coming back for concrete action and answers. Campuses on the North Island will Hui on the 1st/2nd of July, campuses on the South Island on the 8th/9th, to consider the response. A second National Day of Action has been agreed for the 26th of July. It is envisaged that if there is no change in position by then, we will go into nationwide occupation.

Over the next phase, Fightback will be involved in an intensive education campaign on the local campuses, holding teach ins, organising campaign stalls several times a week, signing up new members, and taking our message onto the Polytechs. The nationwide petition for the ten demands will gather thousands more signatures in support of free education, and we will hold weekend stalls in town and city centres to enlist community support. Alliance and Green MPs and Councillors who support free education will be asked to come on the National Days of Action, and to join students in the next wave of occupations.

We hope that the next wave of occupations, O2, will involve 500 to 1000 students per campus. Polytechs will be joining us in the next wave. We will also be petitioning staff unions to call for sympathetic industrial action in support of Free Education.

Many people voted Labour to get National out. They did not vote Labour for a continuation of National education policies. We will work with this huge mandate for change and put concrete demands on Labour, rights that many of their MPs enjoyed during their student days. The ACT party estimates the cost of Free Education at 450 million dollars per year. This sum can easily be raised by taxing the corporations and the ultra rich a mere percentage point extra in tax.

Be reasonable- Demand the Possible

Joe Carolan 025 6169177 Fightback Waikato


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