Socialist Worker

Education round up: College strikes see results in London

Issue No. 2653

On the picket line at Lambeth College in March

On the picket line at Lambeth College in March


College strikes are forcing bosses to make improved offers to workers on pay and conditions.

UCU union members at two London colleges held three-day strikes last week.

The action is part of a long-running campaign by the union to win real-terms pay rises and improvements in conditions.

Workers struck last week at the Tower Hamlets sites of New City College in east London and at Lambeth College in south London.

Management at Lambeth College have made a new offer to workers following the action.

UCU members were set to meet on Wednesday to discuss it.

Bosses had asked workers to suspend their action last week. But without any firm offer, they voted unanimously to continue the strike.

UCU members at Croydon and West Thames colleges are re-balloting for strikes following several walkouts. And those at the Hackney site of New City College are also balloting for action.

The UCU said there would be “more action” if bosses failed to resolve the disputes.


EIS bargain made?

Thousands of college lecturers in Scotland are closely watching developments in their pay dispute. At the end of last week their EIS union general secretary said that an agreement in principle has been reached with college bosses.

Further meetings were planned this week. EIS suspended this Wednesday’s planed strike. But the union said strikes scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday of next week remain in place. Action short of a strike continues.

Lecturers fought for and won harmonised equal pay across the sector.

But management now want them to pay for that by holding down future increases.

The present offer amounts to a rise of just 2 percent over three years—and with worse terms and conditions.


Election campaign hots up

The election campaign for UCU union general secretary is underway. Jo McNeill is the candidate for the UCU Left, which Socialist Worker supports.

Jo told a hustings at Cambridge university last week, “I believe that UCU has got to change.” Jo said the USS pensions dispute last year, which saw workers at over 60 universities stage 14 days of strikes, showed some of the change needed.

Jo won 41 percent of the vote when she stood for general secretary against former incumbent Sally Hunt in 2017.

A victory this time would boost all union members who want a fightback.

The election ends on 23 May.

Go to jomcneill4gensec.com for updates and campaigning

NEU can go on attack with the Sats ballot

NEU union members are organising ahead of an indicative ballot on whether to boycott Sats tests in primary schools.

Primary school children face the tests when they are seven and 11. They cause huge stress.

NEU members voted to ballot for a boycott of the tests at their annual conference last month. An indicative ballot is set to start on 4 June. In Ealing, west London, NEU members met last week to discuss the ballot.

Teacher Tara told Socialist Worker, “We are having a phone bank to recruit and reach primary school teachers with no reps in their schools.”

Tara said there were some concerns about what schools might try and replace Sats with. And there are arguments about how reliable teachers’ judgement is and whether this involves unconscious bias.

NEU members in Redbridge, north east London, are also organising and have planned a phone bank.

Teacher Ben told Socialist Worker, “We know from our pay ballot that where emails and texts don’t get through, conversations make a big difference.”

He added that activists need to “raise the sights” of teachers.


East Sussex schools are out

Teachers in the NEU union from schools near Brighton struck on 1 May.

It was part of their campaign to stop academisation. The schools are Peacehaven Heights Primary School, Telscombe Cliffs School and Peacehaven Community School.

All are threatened with being taken over by the Swale academies group, an anti-union outfit backed by East Sussex County Council.

Each school had about 30 pickets outside. Strikers were determined to stop academisation, and said they had considerable support from parents.

NEU executive member Phil Clarke said workers had the full support of the union. Later in the morning there was a march through the town.

Local MP Lloyd Russell?Moyle visited the picket lines. He assured strikers a Labour government would return all academy schools to public ownership.

Steve Guy


John Roan to walk out

NEU union members at The John Roan school in Greenwich, south east London, are set to strike on Tuesday of next week. The action is against a plan to turn the school into an academy. NEU and GMB union members have struck already against it.

They fear academisation will mean poorer conditions and worse education for children.

Workers have appealed to supporters to join them on the picket line and demand that the Department for Education (DfE) revokes the academy order.

Some 33 schools have had academy orders revoked since 2016.

Strikers plan to lobby the DfE on the day of the strike.


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