Socialist Worker

Barnsley College lecturers strike to stop squeeze on pay and conditions

by Dave Gibson
Issue No. 2431

New faces on the picket line at Barnsley College

New faces on the picket line at Barnsley College (Pic: Jay Williams)

UCU union members at Barnsley College ended a two-day strike yesterday, Thursday. The workers are in dispute over attacks on their jobs and contracts.

The walkout follows a successful one-day strike last month.

Lee Short, UCU branch secretary at the college, said the action was “strong” and that students joined the picket lines.

“During the last strike people joined the union on the picket line. Then we went around staff rooms in the run-up to this strike and recruited even more,” he told Socialist Worker.

UCU branch chair Andrea Armitage added, “I have really enjoyed picketing. Picket lines have been young and vibrant.”

UCU members are fighting changes that would bring in new roles that cut pay and holidays for some workers, and bring in performance related pay.

A-Level art teacher Richard Kitson used to be on a zero hours contract. He said, “It gave me no incentive to carry on. Now I have a permanent job but with performance related pay. Managers show us no respect.”

An open evening on the first day of the strike allowed strikers to leaflet and talk to parents.

Lee said, “All the parents were supportive. Some were obviously health workers as they said, ‘I’m completely behind you—I was on strike on Monday’.”


Students joined picket lines too. History student Jake Goodman said, “It’s good to be here showing support. Students should be angry at the system.”

Workers were angry at the difference between their treatment and that of management.

Course leader for Games Design Diane Hartshorn told Socialist Worker, “We have far too much work—and many lecturers have had a massive imposed pay cut. Yet the principal gave himself a pay rise of £25,000.”

Strikers said bosses were harming students’ education. Striker Jane Collier said, “They are squeezing our pay so they can afford new buildings. But buildings don’t make for a good education—teachers do.”

So far college management aren’t budging. And when the principal came to the picket line strikers ignored him.

At the end of the walkout the workers agreed to escalate to a three-day strike in January if bosses don’t back down.

They plan a lunchtime protest on Friday of next week.

Lee said Barnsley strikers have also endorsed the union’s national strategy of strikes over pay. “It’s important people are looking beyond our dispute and want to see a national fight,” he said.

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