Socialist Worker

Tower Hamlets College strike is winning concessions

by Richard McEwan, joint UCU branch secretary, Tower Hamlets College
Issue No. 2170

A month of all-out strike action by lecturers to defend education and jobs has forced concessions from management at Tower Hamlets College.

Last week bosses offered better voluntary redundancy packages and promises of redeployment where possible. However, they also wanted to retain the right to sack some workers.

A 170-strong meeting of UCU union members—the biggest mass meeting so far—overwhelmingly rejected management’s proposal and voted to continue the strike.

We have kept up unity with students, and with admin and support workers. Around 100 people joined a lunchtime rally on Tuesday of this week.

Our campaign has already saved more than 300 places in Esol (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

And our solid strike action has brought management back to the table over job losses.

Bosses sacked 13 workers over the summer but they have now accepted that three staff who wanted to take enhanced voluntary redundancy can do so.

A further two Esol teachers have won appeals against redundancy. This means the dispute continues in defence of eight people—and to safeguard education at the college.

Management has now asked the Acas conciliation service to come in to help resolve the dispute, and talks are likely to continue this week.


Many lecturers are worried about our students. We have begun to draw up ideas to make sure students get catch up and support sessions so they don’t suffer as a consequence of college bosses’ intransigence.

The solidarity keeps coming, and we have raised over £20,000.

We sent a delegation to Lewisham College and were turned back by managers saying we were not allowed on college property. So we sent back a bigger delegation for a gate meeting and Lewisham UCU members gave us £300.

Our campaign is helping other branches to organise. We’re sending a group of strikers to Doncaster this week to support them in their fight against 119 redundancies.

Delegates at the UCU special pay conference last Saturday gave us a standing ovation and collected over £400. Union members at City and Islington College have raised £2,000.

Tower Hamlets pickets will be going to Brighton to the Labour Party conference on Sunday. We urge all our supporters to join us to demand education and jobs for all.

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Article information

Tue 22 Sep 2009, 18:28 BST
Issue No. 2170
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