Socialist Worker

Classes cancelled as Barnsley College workers begin three-day walkout

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2438

Workers at Barnsley College began a three-day strike today, Thursday, to defend their jobs and conditions.

The UCU union members face a “restructure” that would downgrade jobs, slash holidays and bring in performance-related pay.

Around 30 strikers picketed at the college despite severe snow. Lee Short is branch secretary of Barnsley College UCU. He told Socialist Worker, “We covered four of the main town centre sites, which we haven’t done before.

Bosses claimed that the college was open as usual, but Lee said, “It had a big impact. Students told us they’d been sent home as there were no classes.”

Strikers have won support from other trade unionists across Britain – including from Sheffield College, where UCU members are also on strike today.

Barnsley College workers voted to escalate their action at a branch meeting on Wednesday of this week. They plan to strike for four days next month and five days in March if bosses don’t back down.

Lee said, “The meeting was really resolute. We have won some concessions – for instance improved sickness benefit – but we haven’t won anything on the substantive issues.

“We feel the things we are asking for are not unreasonable or unaffordable.”

College principal Colin Booth, who was awarded an OBE in the queen’s New Year Honours list, wants to change some workers’ job titles which would slash their pay. He also wants to bring in performance-related pay and cut holiday entitlement.

Lee said the strikes had “clearly scared” the principal. He added, “We’ve had lots of messages of support and they all make a difference.

“Some people will feel the pinch – especially those on hourly contracts or on very low pay. We are asking people to keep donating to our strike fund."                                                                                            

Rush messages of support to lee.short1975@gmail.comSend solidarity donations and make cheques payable to Barnsley College UCU, c/o 43 Granville Street, Barnsley S75 2TQ

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Article information

Thu 29 Jan 2015, 11:24 GMT
Issue No. 2438
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