The threat of a five-day strike at Barnsley College forced a sudden change of heart from college management last week.
The strike was to stop management imposing compulsory redundancy UCU union on joint branch secretary Graham Mustin. It was due to start on Friday of last week.
But on Thursday management offered Graham a new job at the college.
Graham told Socialist Worker, “I’m very pleased and everyone’s quite upbeat about it. It was a big thing for people to commit to five days of strikes. But this is a result for united action.”
Management had tried desperately to undermine our unity and determination. They blamed the dispute on “extreme” elements. They demanded we arrange full cover for the classes we were going to miss—and instructed managers to monitor this.
None of these tactics weakened our resolve.
Branch activists toured the staffrooms on Friday after the management climbdown. Our message was that solidarity, and a willingness to resist can win. It went down well.
This dispute started in May and has been our most militant campaign ever. We’ve had four strike days and three demonstrations. We have had excellent support from our students.
And we have been overwhelmed by messages of support and donations from branches of UCU and other unions.
We have not won everything. Many UCU members left on voluntary severance when we had urged them to stay and fight.
Some of these are back doing their old work on the new casualised contract—for a fraction of their former wage. Graham has had to take a pay cut and is on a three‑month trial.
But this victory puts us in a stronger position to fight in the future. As Graham put it, “This result can lift people. And we can now start focusing on the strikes on 30 November.”