Students and workers in victimisation protest

Guild Gazette today carries a front-page report on the May Day march through Liverpool, joined this year by 1,500 students protesting at the severe sentences imposed on the ten victimised students.

On Friday May 1st, 1,500 students of this university demonstrated their anger at the disciplinary proceedings of the ten victimised students by holding a May Day Protest March through Liverpool.  They were supported by workers of the city who also protested at the similar blacklisting of workers that exists in British industry.

Before this, in a packed Mountford Hall,  students  attended a mass meeting supporting a one day strike and also participating in the demonstration. Mr Sandy Macmillan, President of Guild, informed the students that there had been a telegram from Manchester University supporting the strike and promising similar action.

He went on to read out the motion that was passed at the last Guild Council and which called for a one day strike of Staff and students on 1st May, 1970.  Mr Macmillan then stated that he would not join the march on the grounds that it was up to each individual to decide whether to go on the march or not. He had decided not to go.

He then introduced Mr Jack Straw, President of the NUS, who told the students that there had been a meeting of the NUS Executive the previous Sunday and that they had decided to support Liverpool in their fight against the sentences. He defined what the term ‘victimisation’ meant to him. He enlarged that victimisation occurred in a crime when a number of people were known to the police and only a few were charged. He said that the sentences on the ten students bore no relation to their ‘crimes’ and that there was no natural justice in the trials.

He concluded by saying that the NUS had not called for a national strike but had “phoned strategic and important universities urging supporting action,” and that the students of Liverpool should forget their political differences and support the strike because “if you stand disunited on this you will stand disunited always.”

Mr Richard Davies then told the meeting that the Chemistry and Mathematics departments were holding compulsory registers and that the Dean of the Law faculty had deliberately arranged a lecture for midday on May Day.

Mr Dave Robertson impressed upon the students that it was not solely their march and that now they were not “apart from and above the rest of society.”

The Students then assembled outside the union and proceeded at about 11.30 a.m. to march down Bedford Street. The route was to turn left into Oxford Street and then to Moss Street via Grove Street, Crown Street, Pembroke Place and Daulby Street.

The march extended for about 50 yards and numbered approximately 2,000 students. This included contingents from the College of Commerce, Kirkby Fields College, C F Mott Teacher Training College and Southampton University.

Shouts of “May Day –  Out”, “Racialism Out”, “Thomas Out” were repeated as the students paraded past Senate House. A Union Jack was pasted on to one of the Senate House windows and the students responded to this with chants of “Sieg Heil!”

The march wound its way down to Islington where it joined the main body of the May Day demonstration, organised by the Liverpool Trades Council. One extra contingent for the march turned out in the form of a number of workers, some 50 strong, from Domestic Appliance Ltd who have been on strike for some weeks over a pay demand. They carried placards and chanted slogans. One such placard read “Fed up, Bread up, Cough up”.

The procession made its way down to the Pier Head and was watched by several hundred spectators. Some of these people were asked what their opinions of the march were and one old gentleman replied, “What victimisation ? They should expel the lot of them. You should all get out to work ! ”

Students and workers gathered at the Pier Head in solidarity against victimisation and blacklisting.

When the marchers arrived at the Pier Head they were addressed by several of the Labour Trades Council members. A collection was organised for the Council and the speakers expressed their solidarity with the students. However, there were no speeches from any of the students and soon afterwards the march broke up and most of the students made their way back to the Union.

Students demonstrating against victimisation were later harassed by police outside the Union, which was bedecked with red flags from windows signifying solidarity.

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Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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