Workers at Lambeth College in south London held a defiant strike on Thursday of last week against hated contracts imposed by bosses.
The UCU union members had planned to begin an indefinite strike before bosses got an injunction to stop them. Workers plan to reballot and hope to begin an indefinite strike within weeks.
Jean was picketing at the college’s Clapham site. “We’ll probably get an even stronger vote when we reballot,” she told Socialist Worker. The original strike vote—95 percent for strikes on a 70 percent turnout—shows the strength of feeling.
There was a big turnout on picket lines at the college’s Clapham, Brixton and Vauxhall sites. Striker Barry told Socialist Worker, “There were 30 people picketing in Vauxhall—the best turnout we’ve ever had.”
He said the new contracts—which include longer hours and shorter holidays—had infuriated people. “Managers have got away with murder over the last year,” he said. “I don’t think we can afford to lose.”
Workers from other unions and UCU members from several colleges joined strikers for a solidarity rally in the evening.
One striker told Socialist Worker, “I don’t usually vote for strikes. But the contracts are so ridiculous that I voted to strike this time. I’ve worked at the college for 25 years and I’ve never known it to be this bad. I used to love working there. Now I dread going in.”
Mandy Brown is branch secretary of Lambeth UCU. She said the injunction had made the fight about more than just contracts. “It’s about our right to take action,” she said. “Sometimes laws are unjust and sometimes laws need to be broken,” she told the rally.
The UCU’s national executive committee met on Friday of last week. It unanimously backed an emergency motion calling for a national mobilisation for a demonstration in Lambeth on 17 May.