Workers braved stormy picket lines at the College of north west London on Thursday of last week and struck to defend their union rep. It follows a 24-hour walkout last month.
Bosses suspended UCU union branch secretary Indro Sen in October last year.
Workers see it as an attempt to weaken the union so bosses can ram through cuts and a merger with the City of Westminster College.
Sen told Socialist Worker, “I was suspended on 10 October. On 12 October there was a governors’ meeting to agree to the merger. The timing is so obvious.”
The official reason for Sen’s suspension is that he took unauthorised leave to attend a meeting with a sacked worker.
“My line manager arranged cover for it,” said Sen. “Another manager sat next to me in the meeting.”
Support worker Angela has been at the college for 13 years. “Sen has always defended staff and has been so active in fighting compulsory redundancies,” she told Socialist Worker.
“I think this is a deliberate ploy to attack the head of the union.”
But workers remain determined. Sen said, “We had a branch meeting yesterday and declared a further dispute over fraud.”
Edinburgh College lecturers in the EIS union were set to strike on Thursday over the sacking of a colleague. Management vetoed witnesses and breached procedures.
Since its formation by merger in 2012, the college has lost millions due to management misspending on severance payments.
The college has been haemorrhaging students. It is under investigation by the Scottish Parliament for claiming funds it was not entitled to.
Senior management is lashing out at staff in a bid to weaken the EIS.
They initiated disciplinary processes against the EIS branch secretary but backed off when there was an 80 percent vote to strike in an indicative ballot.
But the sacked colleague was not reinstated. A further statutory ballot followed which produced a similar result.
An indicative ballot of EIS Fela union members in Scottish FE colleges was set to end on Friday.
It was called in response to college bosses’ attempts to renege on a pay deal last year. The result could lead to strikes if bosses refuse to honour the deal.
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