Students Protest At Winz In Hamilton

Published: Thu 23 Mar 2000 10:53 AM
Students Protest At Winz In Hamilton 12pm Thursday 23rd March Winz Offices, Grey Street Hamilton East
Message Includes Statement From Fightback And Press Release
Statement From Fightback
We are determined that this is the last year that students are reliant on WINZ to process their student loans. We call for the overdue sacking of Christine Rankin and for the immediate hiring of more staff to process loans now!
But the crisis in Education requires much more fundamental change. Fightback! believes that it is now time to cancel student debts, abolish the loans and fees system, and replace it with free education for all, introducing a decent Universal Student Living Allowance to end student poverty and debt. We believe this should be achieved by taxing the top 5% of income earners, the corporations who have been given 16 years of tax breaks at the expense of our education system.
To achieve Free Education, we will need to organise and take direct action. Today's protest against WINZ is a magnificent start after years of apathy and defeat in Waikato. Now is the time to come together and harness our anger and energy. Students are preparing to occupy in Canterbury University in Christchurch this Tuesday. We will hold a rally in Hamilton in solidarity with their action. Come to the organising meeting this Monday 27th March at 1pm in the Womens' Room behind the Cowshed to plan the next stage of our campaign. Coz they say cutbacks, and we say...Fightback!!!!!
Join Fightback! email Ph : 025 6169177 ******************* PRESS RELEASE ******************* Students are set to protest against an appalling loans backlog this Thursday, a backlog that has left thousands without money for food or rent in the Waikato region. They are demanding that the government immediately hire more WINZ staff to process the outstanding claims, insisting that this is the last year that students are treated in this abhorrent way.
"WINZ are patently unable to cope with the added casework of processing thosands of students, and should clearly not be in charge of this vital service. We are calling on Christine Rankin to resign, and for the new Labour led government to replace the current debacle with a Universal Student Living Allowance, to tackle once and for all the boiling issues of student debt and poverty" said Fightback Activist Joe Carolan.
The demonstration is expected to be angry, but in a colourful and humorous way. Organisers condemned last weekends police bruality against their fellow students in Auckland, where 18 students were arrested for "obstructing a footpath". Mr Carolan called on the Hamilton police to respect students right to peaceful protest, and promised that "no students would be gouging eyes, twisting arms, strangling throats or sticking their fingers up other peoples noses."
"We are taking to the streets because we are at a crisis situation in student poverty and debt. We believe it to be a huge factor in causing stress and depression in young people, and rather than suffer some rightwing student magazine editor's advice on how to kill ourselves, we believe protest and action is the answer to this bureaucratic nightmare."
The demonstration is organised by the Fightback! campaign group for Free Education, and is supported by the Waikato Students Union, the Alliance and the Socialist Workers Organisation. Councillor Dave Mac Pherson will be speaking, along with Joe Carolan (SWO), Heather Lyall (Fightback), and individual students telling their stories of hardship.

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