The picket line saw a really inspiring rally where we heard from speakers from City and Islington College, London South Bank University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Leeds Metropolitan University and Rich McEwen from Tower Hamlets College
We heard about the 2009 Tower Hamlets College dispute and the many similarities with our current struggle. Victory there has strengthened the union’s hand and made it much easier to defend conditions for workers. It was very interesting to hear that on the eve of their dispute, other principals had applied pressure on the principal at THC as they were worried about how this could galvanise the sector.
This was also mentioned by Sean Vernell, who said that the management at City and Islington had appeared very ‘twitchy’ when they saw that Lambeth College strikers had gone to speak to their UCU branch. There are similar battles at City and Islington where the union is currently balloting for action as a result of proposed redundancies. Sean asked how it could be justified, that when a million 16-24 year olds are out of work or training, 2,000 jobs in the FE sector are at risk across the country.
Pura Ariza told us how crucial it is to include the local community in action – she highlighted the support Preston gave to UCU members at UCLAN. Another speaker highlighted how UCU academics took action to protect the conditions of support workers at Liverpool University.
Speakers from Lambeth College re-iterated the importance of our struggle and also announced a series of teach-outs for learners which will be held next week. There’s also a planned mini world cup, which will also feature a keenly-anticipated UCU vs Unison 5-a-side.