By Chris Allen
NATFHE lecturers at Leicester College are in their fourth week of strike action in response to management trying to by-pass the union and get lecturers to sign up to new contracts which increase their workload and cut holidays.
The college has used local media to pretend that the strike is ineffectual. A visit to the college tells a different story. The Abbey Park campus looks like a ghost town. Management have infuriated students by insisting they come into college when many lectures are simply not happening.
Talks at ACAS on Monday 16 February got nowhere, with managers refusing to meet the strikers.
The strikers are organising pickets at every site, and meeting regularly to discuss tactics. On the whole they are very positive.
The national union understands the importance of this dispute for all college workers: the strikers are in control of their own dispute, the union is backing them with strike pay.
Spreading the dispute to other college workers and the students is the key to winning. Strikers have written leaflets aimed at getting more student support. Unison activists need to think about how to get support from Unison members in the college. Few visible Unison activists on the ground is not an excuse. Support staff should not be doing overtime, or helping cover lectures. The passive support among the support staff needs to be turned into a campaign to rebuild Unison at the college. The support staff must be convinced to use their legal rights to refuse to do work that undermines the strike, instead of being used to scab.