Socialist Worker

College strikes—‘The money is there for education’

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2638

Striking in South London in 2017

Striking in South London in 2018 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


UCU union members at 16 colleges were set to strike on Tuesday of next week. The walkout is the second wave of action in a battle over pay.

The bosses’ Association of Colleges has offered a ­below-inflation rise of 1 percent. Yet the union says the value of workers’ pay has dropped by 25 percent in real terms over the last decade.

Workers at 14 of the colleges will hold a two-day strike from next Tuesday. Those at Leicester will strike on 29 and 31 January, and those at Kendal will be out on 29 January and 12 February.

UCU members at six colleges struck in November to kick off the dispute.

Workers know the money is there for real terms pay rises.

A deal reached last year at the Capital City College Group, which includes three colleges, gave 1,700 workers a 5 percent rise. It followed eight days of strikes. Zeina is a UCU member at Lambeth College, which was part of the strike in November. She said the deal was “amazing” because it shows that bigger pay rises are possible.

Action

Jim, another UCU member at the college, said the strikes are popular. “More support staff have joined the UCU so they can take action over pay,” he told Socialist Worker.

The strikes for pay are also about fighting to protect education for vulnerable people. Maria, an Esol teacher at Lambeth, told Socialist Worker, “This college really makes a difference to people’s lives.

“The money is there for pay and education, but it’s going elsewhere.

“Some in management get ridiculous amounts of money. We know other colleges have won over pay—and I hope we win too.”

The colleges striking on 29 and 30 January are Abingdon and Witney, Bridgwater and Taunton, City of Wolverhampton, Coventry, East Sussex, Harlow, Hugh Baird, West Thames, Bath, Bradford, Croydon, Lambeth, New College Swindon and Petroc in Devon

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