Socialist Worker

Battle lines are drawn at London Met college

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2151

Lecturers in the UCU union at London Metropolitan University became the latest group to take action to defend education when they struck on Thursday of last week.

There were pickets across the university’s campuses in north and east London, as lecturers walked out over management’s plans to impose devastating job cuts.

The proposal to scrap 700 jobs would wreck a university at the heart of some of the poorest communities in London.

Lecturer Nick Clark told Socialist Worker, “This university attracts students from mostly deprived, inner-city areas where people already suffer serious economic problems.

“The recession means that there should be more funding than ever in education. It gives people the opportunity to find work, get new skills and so on.

“The actions of management here send a message to young working class people that education is not for them.

“This just adds to the chorus from the government and everyone else who tell these people they’re not worth anything.

“These cut will be absolutely devastating for this community if they win.

“The nursery here is well used. It’s a vital service for people who can’t afford private childcare. But it could close due to the cuts.

“Ordinary people are paying disproportionately for a crisis which is not of their making.

“Look how quickly the government could find money for the banks, but it isn’t coming to save this facility. It makes me really angry.”

Workers handed out leaflets to inform people about the dispute. They also gathered signatures on a petition against the closure of the nursery.

Students at the university solidly support the strike.

As Socialist Worker went to press some 20 students occupied a room in the furniture department against cuts in cources and jobs,.

Finn is a second year student. He said, “On our course, people can specialise in four different areas, which needs really specialised teaching.

“But management want to teach all four subjects as one course.

“This will mean people aren’t ready for the trade they want to follow when they graduate as they won’t have the right skills.

“The wages for some people in management are huge and could pay for ten technicians.

“Yet it’s the technicians that are losing their jobs. We want to show management that the students will stand with our teachers and fight these cuts.

Standard

“As students we came to this university expecting to complete our courses with a high standard of teaching.

“Now management is trying to make cuts which will see that standard slide.”

David, a psychology lecturer, added, “It’s not just teaching staff that will be affected. It is the support staff too.

“They’re looking to do away almost entirely with IT support. But these are people who keep whole departments going. The support services are vital to all the departments.”

The admin and support staffs at the university are members of the Unison union.

They will take the biggest blow when it comes to job cuts.

One Unison member said, “We voted overwhelmingly for strike action in our branch meeting here, but the union has not balloted us.

“We want to be out on strike with the UCU workers. We’re in this together.”

Many Unison members attended the strike rally to show their support.


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