The rally outside the Clapham campus today ranged from rousing to downright funky when the 3 Cosas Campaign turned up with their Cumbia and Salsa tunes to really get the picket line rocking.
The rally started with a welcome to Unison members joining the strike for the next two days, with future dates to be announced and also to the many new strikers who have signed up to the Union on the picket line. It’s clear that the strike really has momentum and is getting more people out everyday.
It is significant that this is the first ever joint action between UCU and Unison at Lambeth College and thanks were given for the tireless work that Jim and Niall have done for Unison members
Again, thanks were given to the incredible work being done behind the scenes and the amazing solidarity being shown. Lambeth college strikers have now visited over 50 different workplaces and over £10,000 has been raised for the strike fund.
We heard from UCU’s head bargainer, who read a statement from Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary condemning the college pricipal for refusing to negotiate, other than offering egg sandwiches to staff not on strike. Hunt called on the principal to come and negotiate to resolve this dispute.
He also mentioned the warm glow that come from having the support of a fellow union out on strike as well.
Kevin Courtney from the NUT thanked the Lambeth Strike for sending representatives to their parliamentary lobby. He stated how it was important for teachers and learners to stand together to defend education, drawing parallels between our struggle and the break up of national pay systems for teachers and the growth of academies in the school sector.
The secretary of the London Metropolitan University Unison branch spoke to say how the strike made him proud to be able to call himself a ‘son of Lambeth’, and how the indefinite strike at Lambeth was an inspiration to the 6,000,000 strong trade union movement across the country. He bought a cheque for £140 to add to the strike fund.
Donations were a theme as a speaker from Camden Unison handed over a £300 donation, SOAS Unison gave £500 to each of the UCU and Unison funds.
Sarah Tomlinson from Lambeth UCU highlighted how Lambeth College teaches the same people who were pupils at her primary school, as well as the parents of those children. She highlighted how the parents of the children she taught asked how it could be possible that there were huge waiting lists for ESOL classes at Lambeth College, while the college was threatening to make people redundant.
We heard messages of support from members of Disabled People against Cuts. Brian Kennedy from the One Housing Unite branch. Alan Crow from the RMT suggested that the only reasons that unions were sometimes accused of being ‘dinosaurs’ by management is because they don’t like the look of our teeth! He had brought £120 from the Eurostar branch of the RMT, while we heard the London Underground RMT had promised £200.
Jim Delaney from Lambeth College’s Unison branch received an amazing welcome. He highlighted the devastating impact that halving sick pay would have on the most vulnerable members of staff. At the same time it would result in a very small saving for the college. Jim made a great point when he said that the way you save money on sick pay is by supporting staff in the first place. He asked the college to stop trying to divide staff and unions and to stop making enemies of its workforce.
We heard from more speakers from different Unison branches as well as people for who this was their first ever day out on strike. It’s clear to see the galvanising effect this has had on people both in and outside the college.
The rally ended with the dramatic arrival of the striking cleaners from the 3 cosas campaign who injected some rhythm into proceedings. It was really inspiring to hear about their struggle for three things – Pensions, Sick pay and Holiday pay. The speaker from the campaign made the point that we were striking to keep the things that they were fighting for in their campaign. An impromptu Spanish lesson made sure that all the college strikers could say “El pueblo unido jamás sera vencido!” The rally ended with striking cleaners, striking lecturers and striking support staff dancing in front of the college.