Lecturers, trade unionists and others marched through south London last Saturday in defence of workers at Lambeth College.
Around 250 joined the march to back the workers, who are in dispute over new contracts being imposed by bosses. UCU union members at the college are currently reballoting for an all-out strike.
Bosses got an injunction against a planned all-out strike last month, so workers struck for a day on 1 May instead. Unison union members have also voted for strikes.
College principal Mark Silverman further antagonised workers last week by revealing that the new contracts will be rolled out to all workers next year.
Currently they apply to new staff and any who change their job role or hours.
Laura is a science teacher at Lambeth College. She told Socialist Worker, “Management has been lying about the contracts. And we’ve never been consulted about any of it.
“They tell us we’re too expensive—but Silverman spent £35,000 on his office.”
She said the attacks would hurt students’ education. “A lot of our students have a lot of issues to deal with,” she explained. “Some can disappear for a month if they’re raided by police and have to move house.
“We have to be flexible. But for bosses it’s all about figures.”
UCU members backed strikes by 95 percent in their last ballot. Many expect a strong result this time too. Mandy Brown is branch secretary of the UCU at Lambeth College.
“Sectors such as hair and beauty or sport aren’t strongly unionised traditionally,” she said. “But now lots of people in those sectors say they want to join.”
Johnny, another UCU member, agreed. “People are taking membership leaflets and asking if they join now will they get a ballot paper,” he said. “That’s quite inspiring.”
The UCU called last Saturday’s protest as a national demonstration.
Workers from other unions—such as the NUT, Unison, Bectu and the RMT—also joined the protest as did campaigning groups.
But the union should be mobilising many more resources to show its support for Lambeth College workers.
The reballot ends on Friday of this week. Every worker should get behind them. As one Esol teacher at the college put it, “If we don’t stand up for this, it will be rolled out across the country.”