Press release from UCU Head Office
The principal of Lambeth College has threatened to axe courses for disabled students and those wishing to learn English (ESOL) if the University and College Union (UCU) does not accept his proposals to amend contracts for new staff.
UCU members had been on strike at the college since Tuesday 3 June in the longest running strike in the union’s history, but returned to work today (Wednesday). However, they have said they will ballot to go back out on strike in the autumn term if the dispute is not resolved.
The union said that if Mark Silverman went through with his threat it would be a hammer blow for the local community, as well as causing major financial problems for the college. The college currently gets around 40% of its income from ESOL courses alone.
The union said its members would not be bullied by outlandish threats from Mark Silverman, but remained hopeful a resolution could be found without the need for further strike action in the autumn. UCU said there was a window of opportunity that both sides should use to break the current impasse.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “I would urge Mark Silverman to step back from his appalling threat and use the current window of opportunity to work with us to resolve this dispute. I am stunned the college is prepared to use some of the most vulnerable people in society to try and force decent hardworking staff to accept its changes.
“We are sure other members of the community will share our outrage and we will be writing to local councillors and MPs to warn them of his dangerous proposal.”
UCU press ontacts:
Dan Ashley t: 020 7756 2600; m: 07789 518 992; e:firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenny Sherrard t: 020 7756 2596; m: 07581 186 516; e:email@example.com
Will Pickering t: 020 7756 2638; m: 07581 186 517; e:firstname.lastname@example.org
Our negotiators met with management this week. All efforts were made on the union’s part to reach an agreement that would bring the dispute to an end. Unfortunately, management put forward a proposal that shows very little movement on the new contracts.
A branch meeting this afternoon voted overwhelmingly to reject management’s proposal. In addition, we passed a resolution stating that the contracts dispute is not resolved but we will stand down the strike on Wednesday 9th July at 9am. We have committed to working during enrolment to secure the future of the college while talks continue. If an acceptable offer isn’t made we will reballot for industrial action. Tomorrow we will return to work all together at 9am, united and strong and committed to continuing our fight for decent terms and conditions. We have had a solid 5 and a half week-long strike and have succeeded in getting management to talk to us despite the principal’s initial refusal to do so while we were still out. Our strike has also led to a small amount of movement on the contracts, and we now believe that further industrial action next year can keep up the pressure and get a better deal.
There has been fantastic solidarity from all around the country and we’ve raised an incredible £30,000 for our hardship fund.
A massive THANK YOU to all who have supported us – and get ready for round 2!
Just look at all that support (click to see more)
The strike at Lambeth College has now reached day 22 and it continues solid, no strikers have returned to work. UCU and the college management are starting to negotiate to find a solution to the dispute. Our campaign received some high profile support from Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys over the weekend.
- Another way that you can support the strike is to write to your MP and ask them to raise your concerns about the dispute. We have added a guide to doing this to the site, along with a template letter that you can adapt and send. Find the page here: Contacting MPs.
- Coming up this Saturday, we have our Special Conference: What is Further and Adult Education for? The event will be held at City Heights School on Somerleyton Road in Brixton and registration is just £5. The event will explore current issues facing the sector and explore possible action. It will be followed by a Lambeth College Solidarity Benefit gig.
- If you want to donate to the Lambeth College Strike fund, find out how here: Donations.