Workers and students protest outside City and Islington college in north London (Pictures: Guy Smallman)

Trade unionists took part in a workplace day of action called by the Stop The War Coalition (STW) on Wednesday.

Over 200 strikers, students and supporters held a rally for Palestine outside City and Islington College in north London.

UCU union members at the college are on strike over pay, alongside several other further education colleges across England. They organised the rally alongside NEU union members at the sixth form. Protesters waved Palestine flags and held signs reading, “Ceasefire now,” and, “No to war.” 

Around 100 workers and students joined a walkout and protest at KCL university in central London, organised by the local UCU branch. Staff and students also rallied together outside Manchester and Liverpool universities. 

And some 30 college workers in Tower Hamlets, east London, waved Palestine flags at a lunchtime protest.

UCU members at City of Bristol UCU joined a group photograph, with signs that demanded an end to the Israeli assault on Gaza. 

The UCU Northumbria University branch committee also joined the call for a ceasefire. In Leeds, workers held an Educators and Medics for a Free Palestine vigil in the evening.

Educators at Chelwood nursery gathered outside the south London school in the morning to demand a ceasefire. They held up pieces of paper reading, “Ceasefire now,” and “5,000 children”—a reference to the number of Palestinian children murdered by Israeli forces.

Some 19 NEU union members at Leytonstone School in east London held pieces of paper demanding, “Ceasefire Now,” and, “End Apartheid!” And so did a group of workers at the Central Foundation Girls School in Bow in Tower Hamlets, east London.

Workers at Langdon Park school in Tower Hamlets held up signs demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. 

At another Tower Hamlets school, workers have held a couple of actions this week. On the STW day of action, workers wore black with watermelons on them—a symbol of Palestinian solidarity and resistance—or the colours of Palestinian flag. 

Earlier this week around 40 held papers saying, “Free Palestine,” “Stop bombing Gaza,” and, “Free Palestine.” NEU members plan to keep this up every week to demand a ceasefire. 

Workers at Sunnyhill primary school in south London said, “Save Gaza! Ceasefire now!”

In Swansea, workers from the council’s Community Mental Health Team and the Eating Disorders Team raised £140 at work for Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP). And a group of them went outside one of the buildings and waved a Palestine flag. 

Other workplaces that took action included Homerton hospital in east London, Unison local government union in Manchester and PCS civil service workers’ union members in Nottingham.

In Oxford, postal workers demanded an end to Israel’s onslaught. The CWU union south central branch’s political officer Keith Hamilton and rep Derek Luckett held up signs demanding, “Stop bombing Gaza.”

Hamilton had resigned from Labour, alongside a group of councillors and members in the city, earlier this month.

A couple of workers at the Royal Hospital in Stoke waved the Palestine flag and held placards that read, “NHS workers demand ceasefire.” 

GMB union members who work for the PCS civil service workers union supported the ceasefire call at a Zoom meeting. NEU union staff at headquarters in London and NEU East Midlands staff demanded a ceasefire outside their offices 

The Unite LE/128 branch, which represents people who work for unions and the community, youth work and non-profit sector, also joined the day of action. The TUC union federation’s northern regional executive took a group photograph supporting the day of action. 

Many workers want to take action over Palestine. We can see that with the grassroots health workers’ group that sprung up after Israel’s first hospital massacre.

There is also the Workers For A Free Palestine group has twice blockaded arms factories. And grassroots trade unionists have pushed to bring delegations to the mass marches in London.

But the union leaders have been slow at best, an obstruction at worst, over Palestine. It’s a disgrace that the TUC hasn’t called even a day of action. The last time it did so for the global climate strike on 20 September 2019 it gave many workers confidence to take action—some beyond their leaders’ limited vision. 

But rank-and-file workers can’t wait on them. The next day of action is set for Wednesday 29 November. Everyone should push for whatever action they can win in their workplaces, whether that’s holding up signs inside your school or a lunchtime protest. If you held up signs inside your workplace this time, can you go further next time? Start talking to people about it now. 

And use what action you can get to build support for the more militant action we need—walkouts that defy the anti-union laws and take on Israel’s backers in Downing Street.


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