Socialist Worker

Strikers won't be bought off with sandwiches at Lambeth College

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2408

Strikers handed governors a petition sandwich

Strikers handed governors a petition sandwich (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Strikers at Lambeth College handed in a “sandwich petition” to governors yesterday, Thursday, as part of their long-running dispute.

Workers have collected over 2,700 signatures on a petition supporting the strikers, mainly from students and local people.

A note on their sandwich read, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch!” after bosses tried to bribe strikers back to work with sandwiches.

UCU union members at the south London college have been on indefinite strike since 3 June.

They are battling vicious new contracts that slash sick pay, cut holidays and impose longer working hours.

Striker Nadia told Socialist Worker that bosses were piling pressure on workers with threats of redundancies. “There are interviews where we have to go to apply for our jobs again set up next week,” she said.

“It’s a tactic to break the strike. But we have to fight now—because if we don’t, this kind of attack will happen everywhere. People won’t be able to go and get a better job in another college.”

Picket

Frances has been on the picket line at the Brixton site of the college. She teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages (Esol). “They are making people redundant now but they don’t even know how many will enrol in September,” she told Socialist Worker.

“I teach literacy to people who can’t read or write. They come here every day—they’re dedicated. It’s pretty depressing that services they need are being cut.”

College boss Mark Silverman claims he has to make changes to workers’ contracts because the college has no money. Yet he pocketed a 13 percent pay rise last year—the biggest rise of any principal in London.

Workers are furious with his claims that they are putting the college at risk by striking, or that they don’t care about students. “In the long term, this college won’t exist if he carries on,” said Frances. “So if we don’t fight back people won’t have anything.”

The strike has won massive support among trade unionists, students and ordinary working class people. But some strikers say the national union could be doing more.

Frank, a picket at Brixton, told Socialist Worker, “The UCU is supposed to be organising a national speaking tour. But every meeting we’ve spoken in has been organised locally. The national organisation seems to be dragging its heels—we want them to get their finger out.”

Lambeth College workers plan to meet with strikers from the Ritzy cinema and firefighters in Brixton to join the People’s Assembly march in central London tomorrow, Saturday.

And there is a national day of action in support of the strike on Wednesday of next week. It’s an opportunity for everyone to do something to build support for the strikers, so they can pile the pressure on Silverman and win.

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. Rush messages of support to mandybrowncow@yahoo.com

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