Lambeth College workers began a two-day strike today, Wednesday, in a battle to defend their contracts.
Strikers mounted picket lines at all three of the south
The UCU union members are fighting principal Mark Silverman’s attempts to bring in new, worse contracts. They are determined to win.
Workers plan a three-day strike from Tuesday of next week if Silverman doesn’t back down. They are then set to walk out indefinitely from 19 January.
Striker Juliet told Socialist Worker, “I just feel that we’re in the right and he’s in the wrong.
“Also this is not just for us. We’ve got lots of support from other colleges because they know if this happens here, it will come to them.”
Silverman’s new contracts slash sick pay and holidays, and impose longer working hours. He claims they will only apply to new staff – but strikers are defending decent conditions for all.
Jim was picketing at the Brixton site. “We had a very positive branch meeting on Monday,” he told Socialist Worker. “People are still very much behind the strikes.
“They don’t understand why the principal won’t do anything to resolve this dispute.”
The walkout was the latest action in a long-running dispute to defend contracts. UCU members struck for over five weeks in the summer term.
They also held two strikes last month – and students struck alongside them.
“Students are furious,” explained one striker at the Brixton site. “They’ve been asking for the principal to talk to them since last year, but he’s too cowardly to.”
In Brixton workers and students have also lost one of the college blocks to a free school that has opened on the site. “Our students can see the classrooms they used to have going unused and lying empty,” said one picket.
“Meanwhile our classrooms are leaking. Buildings are falling apart.”
Mandy Brown, UCU branch secretary at
“He hasn’t spoken to the union since 6 October. It is reckless and irresponsible.
“But we have found lots of support from other college unions and many more. We get cheques in the post for our strike fund for £10 just from individuals. It’s really touching.”
Strikers are appealing for other college workers to make sure their bosses don’t supply scabs to undermine their action.
Mandy added, “We need a good press campaign and for our general secretary to be visiting our picket lines.
“We are also asking for everyone to write to their MP and ask them to sign an Early Day Motion on
Everyone can do something to back the Lambeth strikers.
Send a message of support to the strikers. Do a collection in your workplace, college or campaign group. Invite a striker to speak to your group about their fight. Visit the picket lines to show your support.
A win at Lambeth can boost workers everywhere.