“We know you've got the money – save London Met.” That was the demand of workers and students on Wednesday of this week as they lobbied a meeting of governors at London Metropolitan university.
The lobby was part of an ongoing campaign against university management plans to scrap up to a quarter of the workforce.
Around 70 people joined the protest – despite the fact that the venue of the governors' meeting was changed at the last minute. The lobby followed revelations that London Met has millions stashed away in the bank – exposing management claims that jobs have to go because of a “financial crisis”.
Workers and students are furious at the plans.
Alan Pike, branch secretary of the Unison union at London Met, told Socialist Worker, “This is not just about our own interests and jobs – it's about the students' education.
“Management is trying to panic people into leaving – but people are just becoming more angry.”
Amanda Sackur, chair of the co-ordinating committee of the UCU lecturers’ union, added, “People are very angry about the lack of information from management. There are a lot of demands for action.”
Bodil Larsen and Lily Marchant are third year students studying restoration and conservation at London Met. “We're hearing all these rumours about whole courses that are going to go,” said Bodil. “It's really worrying. We're third years so it's not so bad, but I feel sorry for the people who are just starting and don't know if their course will still be there next year.”
“The fees have gone up, but the amount of teaching hours we get has gone down already,” adds Lily. “It seems insane that some managers at the Met are still getting paid so much. Management should pay the price, not us.”
A delegation of students from the University of East London brought a banner to show solidarity with students at London Met.
Earlier in the day UCU and Unison members held a joint union meeting to discuss the latest developments in the campaign and how to take it forward. The unions have officially entered into dispute and are now engaged in a 90-day consultation period with management – due to end on 20 May.
One lecturer in fine art, media and design told Socialist Worker, “There was a lot of anger at our union meeting today.
“There was frustration that there hasn't been more talk of industrial action and people feel that management are using the consultation process to waste time – it will take us into the summer when we don't have the power to do anything.
“We think the management needs to resign. The crisis at London Met is part of a general crisis of free market ideology – it shows that running universities as pure businesses is a disaster.”
For more information on the campaign go to » www.savelondonmetuni.blogspot.com