Some 200 lecturers in the UCU union at Barnsley College struck against job cuts on Friday of last week. They plan another four days of strikes this month and next.
Around 40 strikers picketed and won strong student support. A large delegation from Sheffield College UCU inspired pickets by explaining how their strikes had beaten the threat of compulsory redundancies.
Local Unison and NUT union members also came to support strikers and we received nearly 40 messages of support from other union branches.
Some 12 lecturers joined the union in the last two weeks so they could strike.
Many departments now have 100 percent membership.
The strikes are to stop compulsory redundancies and to force the college to give jobs to those who feel they have been compelled to take voluntary severance.
Nearly 40 lecturers have applied for voluntary severance and up to 20 still face compulsory redundancy.
Our UCU branch is backing other workers at the college facing redundancy, including 21 canteen staff employed by Aramark.
Psychology lecturer Diane Capper, who has lost her job, said, “We are absolutely devastated.
“A lot of us are from Barnsley and went to college here. Now it feels like we’ve been thrown away.”
Five lecturers applied for five jobs in the new structure. They were the only applicants.
Yet all were deemed to have failed their interviews—despite having decades of experience between them.
Angry meetings with senior management were held in protest. One worker silenced the principal when he claimed he wasn’t highly paid—by saying his annual salary would buy two houses of the size she lives in!
Slashing the lecturer budget while increasing the management one is also enraging lecturers. The Senior Management Team at Barnsley College is one of the most expensive in Britain.
This year the management team rose from nine to 11. “Sack the managers not the tutors” is a popular student placard.
At a well-attended strike meeting, UCU full time officials pledged the full support of the union for any escalation of action members voted for.
Members voted for four strikes—on 27 and 30 June and 6 and 7 July.
Nearly 200 marched through Barnsley last Saturday.
UCU delegations came from Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster, Hull and Bradford colleges, and from the universities of York and Leeds, along with Barnsley GMB.
Barnsley College UCU assistant secretary Graham Mustin addressed the rally.
He said, “After 21 years of working at Barnsley College I have been told I am not wanted because I was not enthusiastic enough about paperwork.”
UCU executive member Laura Miles reported that the national union is “fully behind” the campaign.
USS pensions ballot begins
Lecturers in older, pre-92 universities began balloting this week on industrial action over attacks on their USS pension scheme.
The ballot continues through the summer—but it is vital that lecturers argue with UCU members to vote yes and get the vote out before term ends.
A yes vote will mean thousands more lecturers can join united strikes over pensions in the autumn.
United strike looms at London Met
Workers in the UCU and Unison unions at London Metropolitan University were set to strike on Wednesday of this week.
They are protesting at job cuts and terms of redundancy.