Some responses to management’s recent claims
1. Management are still defending the new contracts with the argument that they are only for new staff. However, their consultation document states “it is envisaged that the new contracts may be rolled out for existing staff”. In addition existing staff who wish to change their contracts or are promoted will be put on the contracts. Management also recently announced that they cannot guarantee “protection” from the new contracts for existing staff after 31st August 2015.
2. In his letter the principal argues that our strike is “damaging to Lambeth College”. But we know that in the long term it will be the new contracts that damage the college. If management are allowed to continue with this attack on staff working conditions it will be easier to attack our conditions in the future. All staff, new or existing, should be on the same contracts, and any attempts to change this will create a two-tier workforce in our college, which is bad for equality, morale and quality of provision . Staff are working harder than ever before and we reject this attempt to increase workloads for no extra pay. It will have a disastrous impact on the future of our community college.
3. The principal claims that he has held “consultations” with the unions, but this is not true. He has said several times that the contracts are “non-negotiable” and has failed to outline in any detail the issues that have lead to the imposition of these new terms and conditions. UCU and UNISON have repeatedly offered to sit down with management and address their concerns over issues such as flexibility in exchange for withdrawal of the contracts, but these offers have been rejected. Unions also recently initiated a constructive discussion with governors of the college. We are prepared to sit down and negotiate, but the principal is not. He should withdraw the contracts now and talk to us to resolve this mess.
4. Bev Julien the Chair of Governors wrote in her letter at the weekend that “most of the UCU members on the picket line were not Lambeth College employees.” This is absolutely not the case and we are very disappointed that the governors and the principal don’t recognise their own staff! There are large numbers of college employees outside on our picket lines and at our branch meetings. Watch our video We Work at Lambeth College for proof:https://lambethcollegestrike.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/we-work-at-lambeth-college/
5. In his letter the principal claims that it is ‘business as usual’ in the college. But we know that this is not true. The whole science department is out and LLDD has shut down. Students in the ESOL department received text messages saying their classes had been cancelled last week. On Wednesday and Thursday alone there were cancelled classes across all the college in maths, English, theatre skills, music, cookery and employability. In other departments classes were merged to try and cope with the disruption. Despite using agency staff and the bizarre attempts to win over staff with free lunches the strike is getting stronger. We are getting new members joining us and students are supporting us by not going in.
On Joining the strike
6. Some staff members understandably have financial worries about striking. UCU National Office has agreed to pay striking members £50 a day and on top of this the branch has already collected a massive £10,000 in our own separate hardship fund, with union branches and other organisations across the country donating money to our cause all the time. There is huge support for our strike, people want us to win and our fund has been growing by up to £2000 a day. This money is for those who need it. Every UCU member, no matter what their role or their job, is important in this dispute; we are all looking out for each other and we will make sure everybody gets the financial help they need. If you are worried talk to one of the reps about it and they can tell you the best and quickest way to access funds.
7. Some managers have told staff that if they strike for one day and then come back in, it is illegal for them to rejoin the strike. In addition, some members have also told us us they can’t join the strike as they are concerned they won’t be allowed back in again. This is not true. It is your legal right to join a strike at any time for as long as you like. This has been confirmed by UCU head office.
8. If you are not a UCU member you can join the union and join the strike at any time. Just talk to a rep on the picket line.
9. As you will know there is also a redundancy consultation taking place at the moment. HR and management confirmed at Wednesday’s redundancy consultation meeting that all members, on strike or not, are allowed to take part in the full consultation process including attending collective and individual redundancy consultations. UCU advises members to take part in the process and dispensation is given to cross the picket line for the redundancy consultation meetings.
10. Some staff are also worried that if they join us at this stage that they won’t be welcome. This could not be further from the truth. We need the help of all UCU members and will welcome you onto our strike with open arms!
SEE YOU ON THE PICKET LINES!
Lambeth College UCU