Workers at Lambeth College in south London have announced a series of escalating strikes in their battle to beat hated new contracts.
The first walkout was set to take place on Thursday of this week.
Workers plan a two-day strike next week and a three-day strike the week after that if bosses don’t back down.
The walkouts come after 83 percent of the UCU union members voted for strikes on a 58 percent turnout.
They are locked in a bitter dispute with college bosses who are determined to force through vicious new contracts. These slash sick pay and holidays, and impose longer working hours.
Alan Watson is a UCU member working at the college’s Vauxhall site. He told Socialist Worker, “The strike vote shows that there are still a lot of people prepared to take action.
“Bosses might have hoped that people would give up. But people aren’t worn down.”
UCU members struck for over five weeks last term against the attack. Workers have delivered big votes for strikes throughout the dispute.
Now bosses claim they won’t impose the new contracts on existing staff. But workers are determined to defend new staff too and resist a two-tier workforce.
Mandy Brown is branch secretary of Lambeth College UCU.
She said, “The strikes so far have resulted in some small improvements to the offer made by management.
“But they do not go far enough. If there is no acceptable offer from management, we will escalate our action.”
Following next week’s walkout, workers plan to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, and again on 15, 16 and 17 December.
Mandy added, “We plan to have two days of strikes in the first week of January, and three days the following week. UCU is positive we will be able to reach an acceptable agreement.
“But if that is not the case we will look to move to an indefinite strike in the third week of January.”
Alan said workers were preparing for big picket lines for the first strike day. “We are thinking of ways to make them more imaginative and eye-catching to attract more people to join our pickets,” he said.
“Strong picket lines for our first strike day will lay the ground for solid strikes in the following weeks.”
Students at the Brixton site have called a strike in support of the lecturers on Tuesday of next week.
Strikers were buoyed by the huge level of support and solidarity they received during the previous strike.
They need that support again. And the national union must throw its full resources behind this critical dispute.