By Anshu Pandit
The protest against the pension cuts marked Kingston’s ‘largest protest in years,’ as students, lecturers, unions, and other public sector workers joined together to take action.
“We have a lot of people showing support and interest, including people who have never come out on strike before,” said politics lecturer Dr Elizabeth Evans.
“We’ve had a lot of support from our students and particularly the education activist network. It’s building a real community of resistance in Kingston,” she added.
Protesters shouting ‘no ifs, not buts, no public sector cuts’, gathered in the front of Kingston University and barricaded the door to prevent anyone from entering the main building.
The protesters took the rally to the streets as they marched through the town centre, causing traffic along the way.
Their march ended outside of the Hippodrome where activists encouraged the crowd to keep ‘fighting against the government.’
“I don’t want to be working until I am 68 pushing around the office in a Zimmer frame. I want to have a decent retirement,” said Kit Leary, a Surrey UNISON representative.
Some children also joined in with the protest, including a local secondary school student Richard Campanale.
“In my art class we have been writing hundreds of letters to the government who are going to cut the creative arts programme at my school and we need them for our future,” said Richard, 13.
KU lecturers who took part were impressed with the rally, which was attended by about 400 people.
“I think there’s been a really strong showing in Kingston, which is really important because a lot of people thought it might be a bit dead and people would go into central London,” said Dr Evans. “It’s impressive the combination of council workers, university students, and people from the job centre. I think it’s been great.”
Dr Evans believes that this is just the start of the opposition against the government and that there will be a lot more protests in the future.
“Part of the aim is particularly to build the mobilisation. This one day is not going to change the government’s plans. This is a very symbolic gesture of the public’s opposition to the cuts,” she said.
Watch our River live video below. Edited by Myriam Dijck.