UCU members at Lewisham and Southwark college (LeSoCo) have voted by 85% for strikes over job cuts.
At a meeting with the chair of the college governors, union reps made it quite clear that we were going to fight to build a college, not a scrapheap composed of redundant education workers and working-class people denied a further education.
Already, more than a hundred students have demonstrated to governors their opposition at a meeting at the Camberwell site. This is only the beginning of a range of actions, on all sites, which will now unfold over the coming weeks.
By the last week in June, as many as nine London colleges will be in action, actions which are becoming increasingly synchronised.
We call on all college workers across the country to bring forward their ballots and actions, to plan their resistance and to join in the broader fight against austerity and cuts.
As we go to press, the joint branch meeting has decided on a series of escalating strike days through June. Other tactics are being discussed that will feed into the strike action and build links with the other unions, Unison and NUS. Links with the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign have already proved fruitful.
We will contact every nurse, every bricklayer, every technician and careworker, every public servant who began their working life with a training at LeSoCo.
We will call on them to make a gesture for the defence of future generations by the defence of their old college.
Squeeze on university staff
University staff have been offered a cost-of-living pay rise of just 1% after the annual round of negotiation between unions and employers’ organisation UCEA.
The bosses have paid lip-service to calls for a living wage, proposing to increase the bottom points of the pay scale (though there are no promises this will extend to outsourced workers). But they’re increasingly trying to sneak in performance-related pay, offering higher rises for those who jump through their hoops.
The offer now goes back to the unions for discussion. UCU will debate strategy at its annual congress at the end of May.
The pay offer is clearly inadequate but after the shambles of the 2013-14 pay dispute, many members are sceptical about the union’s ability to lead a serious fight. The left needs to have an honest discussion about how best to turn that mood around.
Immediately, activists should organise for the national demonstration against casualisation in higher education called by Warwick UCU on 18 June. Outside the formal negotiations, the biggest squeeze on pay and conditions is happening through the shifting of teaching onto highly-casualised adjunct staff. Warwick managers have been leading the way here with a scheme to roll out a national casualised staff agency for university tutors.
Let’s make sure they can’t get away with it!
National Gallery bosses have sacked PCS rep Candy Udwin following her disciplinary hearing on Tuesday 12 May.
Over 50 gallery workers and supporters, including PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka, held a protest in front of Candy’s hearing.
Gallery staff will strike on Wednesday 20 May and from 26 May to 4 June. PCS has also called a national demonstration to save the gallery on 30 May, in Trafalgar Square.