Over 400 Barnsley College lecturers and students demonstrated through the south Yorkshire town yesterday, Wednesday, to protest at a threat to make 25 percent of the college’s lecturers redundant.
It was the second student demonstration there in a week. Students from Art and Design and Catering and Tourism made their own placards with slogans like “Sack Managers not Tutors” and “Save our Tutors”.
Two feeder marches, one from the Honeywell site where art courses are based and the other a big contingent of A-level students, marched to the assembly point.
Delegations from the Barnsley branches of the NUT and Unison unions supported the march. The CWU and FBU unions sent messages of support to the rally.
Alan Whitaker, president of the UCU lecturers’ union, told the crowd, “What is happening in Barnsley is being watched by colleges all over the country. It is vital the whole union gets behind the Barnsley lecturers’ fight.”
Alan addressed a UCU branch meeting of about 100 lecturers that followed the demonstration. That meeting voted unanimously to strike the week after the ballot result is declared in early June, as well as 30 June, and agreed to meet again on the 9 June to plan further strikes.
Dave Gibson, UCU branch secretary at Barnsley College, told the rally, “Our main enemy in this dispute is the Tory government. It is cutting the funding for our students as well as attacking our pay and pensions to make us pay for the bankers’ crisis.
“Yet the bankers continue to draw their obscene bonuses just as before. The Tories don’t care about the education of working class kids—and they don’t care about the livelihoods of the lecturers who teach them.
“Yet today’s turnout shows just how much students and lecturers do care. We are the college, not the men in suits up the hill who are wielding the axe to our courses and jobs.”
He pointed out that all students and lecturers would suffer from the cuts because of increased class sizes and cuts in course hours.
College management wants to replace some redundant lecturers with workers they can pay more than £13,000 less a year.
Dave said, “These cuts are about saving money—we are going to fight them.”
Students gave a massive cheer to show they would support lecturers’ strikes.
After the rally, students marched back to the college and tried to demonstrate inside. College management called the police to stop students getting into their own college!
Mounted police and nine police cars raced to the college and a line of police blocked the main entrance. One construction student told Socialist Worker, “I came on some of the EMA protests before Christmas and now I go on all the Barnsley student protests.
“You’ve got to stand together and fight for your rights.”
Students then went on to protest outside the Sixth Form site, forcing the principal to come and debate with them in the street in front of TV cameras.