Socialist Worker

All-out strike is 'very empowering' for workers at Lambeth College

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2406

Determined lecturers on the picket line in Brixton today, Thursday

Determined lecturers on the picket line in Brixton today, Thursday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Workers at Lambeth College began their third day of all-out strike today, Thursday. Pickets gathered at all three of the South London college’s sites—and said the action was getting stronger.

Simon, a striker in Clapham, told Socialist Worker, “This strike has released the energy that was always there among teachers.

“The response is remarkable when strikers go and speak at meetings. Even if people are feeling nervous they are immediately lifted because people tell them, ‘Your fight is our fight’.”

Just three days into the strike and workers have taken the lead in getting organised. The strike isn’t just being run by a handful of committed activists—it is bringing many workers into activity.

Strikers have divided up tasks. Some are responsible for organising speakers for meetings while others plan picket rotas.

Another group manages the phones at the strike’s headquarters in Brixton.

Frank, a striker at Brixton, has taken on fundraising and organising events. “Before the strike I was totally demotivated,” he told Socialist Worker. “The alarm would go off at 6.30 and I'd put it on snooze—then start worrying about all the things I had to do.

Motivated

“Now the alarm goes off at 5am and I'm straight out of bed. I’m motivated for the first time in about four years.”

Striker Julia was part of a team that visited City and Islington College today. Strikers collected £310 from just two campuses.

“They are so supportive of us,” she told Socialist Worker. “It’s very empowering actually. They know that if we fall it will be bad for further education in general.”

Strikers are fighting contracts imposed by college “chief executive” Mark Silverman. They slash holidays, cut sick pay and impose longer hours on workers.

Unison union members in the college told pickets that he is offering them free lunches. But they say any attempt to divide workers won’t work—and they plan to strike on Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

Lots of students have signed a petition backing the strike. And workers are confident they can win.

“Everybody is in a good mood,” said Raquel, a striker from the Vauxhall site.

“We are confident because of the huge support from work colleagues and all over the country.

“It’s so important because it means we don't feel isolated. If we carry on like this, I think we can win.”


Show your support for this vital dispute

Workers have called for a solidarity picket at the Clapham site of Lambeth College for Friday morning from 7am and they will rally at 11am.

Every trade unionist who can get there should bring banners, collections and delegations to the picket line. This is an urgent dispute that will have ramifications for workers everywhere - and every bit of support makes a difference.

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


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.