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Climate change strikes continue to resonate
Build for action against Trump visit
For a fourth time in successive months, young people, mainly school and college students, took to the streets in cities and towns across the UK on 24 May (part of an international day of action) to protest against the lack of action by government and big business to halt potentially catastrophic climate change.
The call to protest against Trump - the world's number one climate change denier - when he visits the UK next week, was also embraced by students.
Socialist Party members and Socialist Students have helped build for and participated in all these protests.
We are assisting students to establish democratic student unions and to link up with workers organised in trade unions - whose potential industrial muscle can achieve political change - together in a united campaign.
At the same time we fight for a programme of socialist measures - including nationalisation of public transport, major industries and agribusiness, in order to globally plan production in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.
Below, the Socialist carries some reports on the 24 May action.
- Read more: 'The green new deal needed is socialism'
Around 600 students joined the fourth #youthstrike4climate in Leeds, assembling outside Leeds Civic Hall in a direct response to the council passing a Climate Emergency motion one month, then voting to fund infrastructure for airport expansion the next!
As the petition launched prior to the strike states, "why isn't the council using the estimated £50 million for this on measures consistent with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, such as creating green jobs by upgrading the environmental efficiency of council and school buildings. Or investing in green public transport?"
Tanis Belsham-Wray, secretary of Leeds trade union council and Socialist Party member, emphasised the need for students to link up with the trade union movement, and the need for developing a plan to create an environmentally sustainable economy with decent high-quality, well-paid jobs.
After calling for the big energy companies and others to be taken into public ownership to achieve this, Tanis said: "As a socialist, we say let ordinary people make these decisions, let's have democratically elected bodies in our workplaces, schools, colleges and universities, that link together and decide how things should be run to meet the needs of the many and not the interests of the few."
Students were also angry about the upcoming visit of Donald Trump. The #YouthStrikeAgainstTrump on 3 June initiated by Leeds Socialist Students received much interest.
Linked to this was the setting up of a student union in Leeds, with 16 students from six different schools across the city, both to organise against Trump's visit and the increasingly hostile attitude of school authorities towards the climate change strikes.
Along with demonstrators wanting to join Socialist Students, 22 copies of the Socialist were sold as well as the recent climate change pamphlet.
Iain Dalton Socialist Students Yorkshire Organiser
The school student strike in York attracted at least 300 students. It was the youngest so far, with some primary school students marching and speaking from the platform.
The atmosphere was positive and determined with speaker after speaker showing a desire to challenge the status quo and demand a better future.
Michael Robinson, a 14-year-old student from Millthorpe School, speaking from the platform, announced a meeting to discuss how to link schools together to build a more concerted and better organised campaign to fight climate disaster.
This meeting had been organised by a young student from the same school, Hani Sannuga, and is sponsored by York trade union council.
York TUC will continue to sponsor meetings in safe places for the school students to get together and discuss strategies.
The meeting that followed the rally had a wide-ranging discussion around climate change. It agreed on a set of aims for the following meeting, which included: to have all York schools represented in the group, to discuss the solutions to climate change at that meeting, to demand that York council produces a plan to go carbon neutral and sticks to it, to talk up the issues of climate change in schools, and to start climate change school clubs.
Nigel Smith Secretary York Trade Union Council
A cheer rippled through the crowd in central London when Socialist Students took to our mic and reminded everyone that Theresa May was standing down.
We went on to say we needed to get rid of all the Tories, and protest Trump's visit, because they are representatives of big business who are destroying the planet and our chances of a decent future in pursuit of profit.
A surge of students came up to us for leaflets after asking for details of the Trump walk out and how to get organised at their school.
Over 200 young people came to Nottingham's #youthstrike4climate. There were notably more school students than on previous strikes.
They asked searching questions about socialism and the organisation of the strikes. They agreed that capitalism would not solve the crisis and that the strikes needed to have more concrete and clearer demands. They were very interested in what socialism really is.
Some asked if we were the organisers and when I said no, they asked if we wanted to be. I said that we absolutely wanted them to organise themselves and that we were there to support them and talk to them about our ideas.
I said that the strikes were led by self-appointed organisers and that we did not think that just getting young people together for the strikes was enough.
I said that the strikes should be democratically organised and that they should form school and student unions to take the movement forward. They were very interested in this idea.
The students saw straightaway the link between protesting Trump's visit and protecting the environment. A number said that they would come to the anti-Trump protest on 3 June.
We are planning to get a group of students together, build for the next climate strike and hold a meeting straight afterwards.
Clare Wilkins Nottingham Socialist Party
Hundreds of school students marched and rallied in Exeter - the biggest yet. The mood was very buoyant but there is an urgent need for unifying this movement with the labour and trade union movement as a force with the potential to change society - before the unrelenting greed of capitalism destroys the planet.
60 'Socialist change not climate change!' and 'Dump Trump!' badges were sold.
Sean Brogan Exeter Socialist Party
Given that it was an exam period, there was a large turnout for Newcastle's climate change protest, numbering in the hundreds, with an especially large representation from students who were at GCSE stage or younger. The energy of the young people was excellent.
Members of the Socialist Party were the first to turn up with a megaphone, so we implemented an open-mic policy.
One of the young people had earlier been spotted by police on CCTV using spray chalk. The police implemented a stop-and-search, and it looked like they were going to arrest him.
A Socialist Party member raised his plight with the students and encouraged them to surround the officers.
As students started chanting "let him go!" the police were clearly embarrassed and it seems he's been let go without charge.
The protest marched from the Civic Centre to the Monument at the centre of Newcastle. Our socialist chants and demands received a good response from the more working-class students on the demo, with some students filling out our join cards and expressing an interest in campaigning with us.
Later that evening one of the school students got in touch with us to say that she and her friends were facing school sanctions for going to the protest. Socialist Party members met her the next morning to discuss possible action.
200 school students took part in a march with many shouting for change and action. Sadly, the organisers failed to raise what this change should be and the solution for climate change itself.
Birmingham Socialist Students took part calling for 'socialist change not climate change'. Every demonstrator was given our leaflet.
We raised the need for the public ownership, under worker's democratic control, of the major companies which produce most of the world's carbon emissions.
We also linked the upcoming Trump UK state visit to the climate protests - and how the billionaire class representatives are enablers of climate change by putting profit before the needs of people on the planet.
Connie Edginton, Birmingham Socialist Students
300 young people, mainly students on strike, protesting against climate change joined older people and other local activists to march through Liverpool city centre chanting demands.
All the speakers were school students who spoke about the need for urgent action to reverse climate change.
The Socialist Party has strenuously called for socialist policies which can reverse the damage that capitalism has done.
Neill Dunne, Liverpool and District Socialist Party
Upwards of 800 school students marched in Brighton to protest climate change. Many of the students on the march were discussing Theresa May's resignation, announced only hours beforehand.
It is clear that the Tory government offers no solutions to this crisis and there is a big mood developing on the demonstrations for system change. Socialist Students says this change has to be socialist change.
We called for the nationalisation of the massive corporations that contribute overwhelmingly toward climate change, but also for a mass movement to kick out the Tories who represent the super-rich owners of big business.
Conor Rosoman Brighton and Sussex Socialist Students
- Visit socialiststudents.org.uk/resources for help with setting up a student union at your school or college
In The Socialist 16 November 2018:
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