New tuition fees protest aims to attract thousands

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The Independent Online

Another demonstration is being planned against the increase in student tuition fees, with organisers hoping that tens of thousands of people will take part in the protest in the new year.

The latest national protest will be on January 29 in central London, following a wave of demonstrations in recent weeks which have led to a number of arrests and controversy over police tactics.

The Education Activist Network and the National Campaign Against Cuts & Fees have written to trade unions seeking their support for next year's demo.

Officials of the two groups said recent events had shown the ability of the student movement to mobilise tens of thousands of people in London and other major cities.

"Our next demonstration needs to send a clear message to the Government that we will come together to build a united struggle to defend education that can win," said a spokesman.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, replied to the groups: "Can I express complete support for the call for opposition to the disgraceful and immoral attacks on access to education which these latest fee rates represent? It was bad enough having tuition fees to start with but these attacks dressed up as being required because of the banking crisis really are immoral.

"GMB Central Executive Council are grateful to those who have taken a stand against these changes and on the principle of politicians keeping their word.

"GMB is proud to join with students and the University and College Union and our public services section shop stewards and members will be contacted in order to maximise our support."

Len McCluskey, new leader of Unite, said today that unions had been "put on the spot" by the wave of student demonstrations, adding: "Their mass protests against the tuition fees increase have refreshed the political parts a hundred debates, conferences and resolutions could not reach."

Mr McCluskey said trade unions had to work with students to build a wider anti-cuts campaign, adding: "The magnificent students' movement needs urgently to find a wider echo if the Government is to be stopped."

There were violent scenes outside Parliament earlier this month when MPs voted to increase tuition fees to up to £9,000.

Police "kettled" thousands of protesters for hours and there were a number of arrests and injuries.