Socialist Worker

Tower Hamlets College lecturers win strike

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2170

The victorious strikers returning to work on Friday morning (Pic:» Guy Smallman )

The victorious strikers returning to work on Friday morning (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

Lecturers at Tower Hamlets College, east London, have won a fantastic victory against their bosses after four weeks of all-out, indefinite strike action.

Lecturers marched back into work this morning chanting, “No ifs, no buts – no education cuts.”

The workers had been on strike against plans to cut jobs, courses and provision at the college. Thirteen lecturers received redundancy notices over the summer break.

But their strike action has forced the principal, Michael Farley, to back down and promise that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

Workers voted to accept the deal in a mass meeting yesterday.

Brian Ingham, from the lecturers' UCU union’s national executive, came to congratulate the workers. “Michael Farley knows now that he’s dealing with a strong union,” he said. “Everyone in the union will feel a little bit taller now.

“The lesson that you can fight and win will be sending ripples through every college in Britain today.”

The action at Tower Hamlets has been a breath of fresh air. It has pulled new people into activity and won serious solidarity both from the community and from workplaces across Britain.

Many of the striking lecturers were new to the union and had never taken any industrial action before. “I joined the union after the vote to strike had been taken,” Billie, a creative arts lecturer, told Socialist Worker.

“I thought, ‘I have to be in the union to be part of the battle’. People feel really good today. Michael Farley came in with a programme of cuts but we’ve stopped it in its tracks.

“All over the country people have been watching our dispute – our victory will give other people courage to fight.”

Richard McEwan, joint branch secretary of the UCU, agreed. “It isn’t just our jobs that we have saved,” he said. “Potentially we’ve helped to save thousands of jobs.”

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