UCU general secretary Sally Hunt calls on PM to show some humanity over EU staff and students

18 November 2016 | last updated: 24 November 2016
  • Speaking at central London demonstration UCU general secretary will take a swipe at the rhetoric of politicians 'pretending to be men of the people'
  • Thousands expected at largest education protest in years
  • March from Park Lane leaves at 1pm and heads through central London to a 2:45pm rally in Millbank

Speaking at what is expected to be the largest education demonstration in years today, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt will call on Theresa May to "show some humanity, do the decent thing and stop using EU staff and students as pawns in Brexit negotiations."

She will label politicians who have tried to position themselves as anti-establishment figures in recent months as "pillars of the establishment pretending to be men of the people" and attack their rhetoric:

'In a world where Michael Gove says "we've had enough of experts", we stand for education. In a world where Nigel Farage says "we've had enough of foreigners" we stand for compassion. In a world where Donald Trump says "we've had enough of women" we stand for equality.

'Trump, Farage and Gove are pillars of the establishment pretending to be men of the people. But when politicians choose to celebrate ignorance over education everybody loses.'

Sally will speak warmly of the longstanding relationship between staff and students and their fight for a better education system. She will set out the union's opposition to rising fees, spiralling debt and the privatisation of education. She will also draw attention to the scourge of casual contracts.

The speech in full:

I am very proud to be standing here in front of the largest education demonstration since 2010.

I am proud too of the enduring alliance between university and college staff and their students.

When government tripled fees in 2006 we were there with you. When they did it again in 2010 we were there with you.

And we are here with you today as we once again fight against rising fees, spiralling debt and the privatisation of education. But we are here today too because we stand for something bigger even than that.

In a world where Michael Gove says "we've had enough of experts", we stand for education.

In a world where Nigel Farage says "we've had enough of foreigners" we stand for compassion.

In a world where Donald Trump says "we've had enough of women" we stand for equality.

Trump, Farage and Gove are pillars of the establishment pretending to be men of the people. But when politicians choose to celebrate ignorance over education everybody loses.

So today is the beginning not the end of our campaign.

We are calling for Theresa May to stop using EU staff and students as pawns in the Brexit negotiations. Show some humanity. Do the decent thing. Give our people the right to stay.

We are calling too for an end to the expansion of for profit education.

An end to the slashing of further education.

An end to the exploitation of thousands of university and college staff kept on casual contracts.

And - of course - an end to student debt.

So let today be the start of something bigger. The day when we agreed to stand up for education; for compassion; and for equality. In the end with your help, education will beat ignorance.

Let's keep fighting for what we know is right.

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