Socialist Worker

Lambeth College workers begin all-out strike against vicious new contracts

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2406

Pickets at the Lambeth College site in Vauxhall this morning

Pickets at the Lambeth College site in Vauxhall this morning (Pic: Julie Sherry)


Workers at Lambeth College in south London are on all-out strike from today, Tuesday—and they need your support.

The UCU union members are fighting vicious new contracts that attack pay and conditions. They are contracts that bosses elsewhere would love to impose.

Pickets gathered at all three college sites across South London this morning, in Brixton, Clapham and Vauxhall.

They were furious at college principal Mark Silverman.

“He’s got no interest in settling this dispute,” said Frank Innes, who was picketing at Brixton. “He wants to drag it out. The things management have done have appalled me.”

Silverman sent a letter to all workers last week denouncing the “self-indulgent behaviour” of strikers. It claimed the “overwhelming majority of staff” opposed the walkout.

In fact UCU members backed the indefinite strike by 89 percent in a recent ballot, on a 72 percent turnout. And since workers struck on 1 May, more people have joined the union.

“Silverman is just making people more angry,” said Mandy Brown, branch secretary of the UCU at the college. “But the lies are not working.”

Unison union members at the college have also voted for strikes. They produced a letter in support of strikers and said Silverman had tried to divide workers.

One Unison rep told Socialist Worker, “We are fully behind the UCU. We wanted to be out with the UCU today but there was a delay.”

Unison and college bosses have talks at the Acas conciliation service on Thursday of this week. But the rep said Silverman had already said the contracts were non-negotiable. He added, “I get the impression he is worried by the indefinite strike”.

Defiant pickets in Brixton

Defiant pickets in Brixton (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Strikers have a lot of support. They are already booked in to speak to workers across Britain including in Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Portsmouth, Edinburgh and across London.

“I bought a diary to write in all the places we are going,” said Mandy. “But the diary’s not big enough.”

Strikers said some workers were worried about losing money by striking. Every collection and every message of solidarity will strengthen the action.

As one picket put it, “People feel empowered by all the support. Money’s been coming in left, right and centre.”

Dolores was picketing in Vauxhall. She is one of those threatened with redundancy as part of Silverman’s latest attack.

“Some people say we must be worried about not having our wages coming in, but I’m not worried,” she told Socialist Worker. “I feel very determined and very angry.”

This is a fight for every trade unionist in Britain.

If Lambeth College workers lose, the bosses and the Tories will feel emboldened to go on the offensive. If they win, workers everywhere will see that militant action can get results.


Show your support for this vital dispute

Visit picket lines from 7am every day in Brixton, Clapham and Vauxhall and a mass meeting each day at 11am at the Clapham site.

Organise collections or weekly levies to support the strike.

Invite strikers to speak in your union or campaign meeting and rush messages of support to mandybrowncow@yahoo.com


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