In March UCU members at Lambeth College voted overwhelmingly to take indefinite strike action in protest at new contracts being brought in by management for new staff. These contracts included loss of 2 weeks’ holiday, cuts to sickness pay and extra working hours for no extra pay. These changes leave new employees working longer hours than all but three of London’s 38 further education colleges. We have already had two extremely successful one-day strikes but on May 1st were prevented from taking indefinite action by management, who used anti-union laws to obtain an injunction against us . Undeterred by this we re-balloted and have yet again won a massive mandate to take indefinite strike action. Unison members at the college, which represents support staff at the college, have also voted to take strike action and will be announcing strike dates shortly.
If Lambeth College management are allowed to continue with these attacks on staff working conditions it will set a dangerous precedent for the Further Education sector and more widely. Part of the college management’s defence of the contracts has been that they are for only new staff however their consultation document states “it is envisaged that the new contracts may be rolled out for existing staff”. Management have also announced that they cannot guarantee “protection” from the new contracts for existing staff after 31.8.15. We will not accept this attempt to introduce a two tier workforce into our college; we are very concerned about the equality issues that will arise from this.
Lambeth College is a community college. It has been serving the community for many years providing a second chance to those who did not succeed in gaining the qualifications they desired at school and giving people from all parts of the community a chance to learn and improve their skills. The conditions that teachers teach in are the conditions that students learn in. These changes to our contracts will mean that staff will not be able to continue to deliver the excellent education that students deserve.
We call upon our community to support our fight to defend education by helping us defend conditions that people teach and learn in, conditions that enable us to deliver high quality education.
Sign the UCU petition in support of our fight here.