Socialist Worker

As Lambeth strikers escalate action UCU needs to put full weight of national union behind them

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2434

Lambeth strikers were boosted by a visit from a DSG striker

Lambeth strikers were boosted by a visit from a DSG striker (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Workers at Lambeth College began a three-day strike on Monday of this week in the latest escalation in their battle against hated new contracts.

Principal Mark Silverman wants to slash sick pay and holidays, and increase the working week.

The UCU union members struck two days last week and one day the week before. Hated watchdog Ofsted visited the college during last week’s walkout.

One striker told Socialist Worker, “We’ve been told that Ofsted told Silverman he has to get this dispute resolved by Christmas or our grade could go lower.

“Ofsted can see the dispute is affecting learners.”

Strikers picketed the college’s three sites. One striker in Vauxhall told Socialist Worker, “It makes me feel good to be out and see we’re all together across the sites.

“I’ve worked here seven years. When I started and I heard people complain I’d think, what are you complaining about? But now I know.

“Morale is low and the buildings are falling apart.”

Striker Frank said, “Silverman has refused to engage in any serious discussions with the union. I want to be in the college teaching my students.

Worse

“But if we don’t fight now, things will get worse.”

Strikers were buoyed by support from other workers in dispute and students. Ollie, a striking DSG worker, visited pickets in Clapham.

Students struck alongside lecturers last week, and this week some visited pickets to show support. Plumbing student Andrew said, “There are a lot of cuts and it’s not fair.

“They keep cutting back on staff. Teachers need more money and they need support.”

Lambeth workers have shown enormous resilience. As Frank pointed out, “We’ve had six strike ballots and we’ve won every one.  

“We wouldn’t have dreamt of striking during an Ofsted inspection five or six years ago. People feel we have to take whatever action is most effective.”

Workers plan to strike again on 6 January if Silverman doesn’t back down. Strikers can win—but they can’t be left to fight alone. Their union has said the fight is a local dispute of national significance. 

It’s time UCU leaders treated it as such—and threw its full weight behind the workers.

Rush messages of support and speaker requests mandybrowncow@yahoo.com 
Cheques payable to J Eldon Send to Mandy Brown c/o Lambeth Trades Council, Hambrook House, Porden Road, London SW2 5RW

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