Workers at London Metropolitan University began a two-day strike this morning, Thursday, against job losses and course cuts.
Management is pushing ahead with cuts that threaten to slash up to a quarter of all jobs at the university.
The strike united workers in both the UCU and Unison unions.
Jonathan McCree works in the academic registry and is a Unison member. “We prepare exam papers, organise invigilation and timetabling for the whole university, but we have been cut from eight people to just four,” he told Socialist Worker.
“The cuts will make the student experience worse. The cuts we’ve had already have had an impact—workload has increased and students are being crammed into bigger classes. We can’t afford any more cuts.”
Some students came to the picket lines to talk to the strikers. Nicole is studying PR and film studies. “Our choice of course modules is decreasing,” she told Socialist Worker. “We have a booklet with hundreds of modules but when you apply you find they are not there.
“The poorest people don’t get the same opportunities for education as richer people. But we should all have the right to education.”
“It’s good that people are striking,” added Natalie, another film studies student. “We have to do something to stop the cuts.”
Sasha Callaghan, national officer of UCU, came to the picket line to show support for the strike. “This is not just about job cuts but about fighting a direct attack on the life chances of working class people in east London,” she told Socialist Worker.
Many strikers felt that they had been pushed into taking action after management refused to talk to them.
Alex Tarry is an assistant branch secretary for Unison at London Met. “We’re angry at the cuts but also at the way management are railroading them through,” he told Socialist Worker.
“Management won’t go to Acas to discuss the redundancies. We had a so-called ‘consultation’ but we got very little information and people were losing their jobs during it.”
Mark Campbell is a lecturer at London Metropolitan and on the UCU national executive committee. “Today we’ve managed to talk to large numbers of students who are hearing about what’s going on for the first time,” he told Socialist Worker.
“Now management want to close our nursery, which gives working class mothers a chance to get an education. We have to fight for the heart and soul of our university.”
Jonathan agreed. “London Met has been part of a widening participation programme to help people who wouldn’t otherwise get into education,” he told Socialist Worker. “The cuts will end that.
“Workers didn’t create the mess at London Met and students certainly didn’t—the people who created it should pay. It’s encouraging to see the success at Tower Hamlets College because it shows that we can make inroads.
“It’s up to us workers to stop the cuts.”