Socialist Worker

Strikes score victory at Lambeth College

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2654

Lambeth college strikers

Lambeth college strikers (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Workers at Lambeth College in south London have won a pay rise after a series of strikes. They have also won improvements to conditions for staff on new, worse contracts at the college.

UCU union members there have staged ten days of strikes since November as part of a campaign by the union over pay and conditions in English colleges.

They had threatened further strikes in June if bosses didn’t resolve the dispute.

Workers at Lambeth were fighting a below-inflation 1percent pay deal and were also demanding better holiday and sick pay for staff on new contracts. Workers earning less than £40,000 will receive a further 2 percent rise on top of the 1 percent already offered. Those earning over £40,000 will receive a further 1 percent.

The pay deal is backdated to September last year.

And workers earning a full time equivalent salary of less than £26,000 will receive a one-off payment of £250.

All staff will have six months’ full sick pay entitlement, and six months’ half sick pay entitlement. Teachers on the new contracts will receive an extra five days’ annual holiday, and their teaching hours will be cut from 24 hours a week to 23.

UCU members voted to accept the deal at a meeting last week.

Joint UCU branch secretary Mandy Brown said, “Striking is a brave and often difficult thing to do. But we received hundreds of solidarity messages and donations.

“We have learned two very important things. First, the money is there. And second, strikes work.”

UCU union members at West Thames College in west London began a 48-hour strike on Tuesday of last week.

The action was part of a long running dispute over pay and conditions.

Workers at nine colleges struck in April, 13 in January and six last November.

West Thames UCU members College delivered a unanimous vote for strikes in a recent ballot.

UCU official Una O’Brien said, “It is not acceptable for colleges to say finances are tight and nothing can be done.”

A protest was planned for this Saturday in defence of victimised UCU union rep Lee Humber. Bosses at Oxford’s Ruskin College suspended Lee in March on trumped up charges.

Students and workers joined a protest outside the college within days.

Lee is membership secretary of the UCU at Ruskin College. He was suspended after the union branch delivered a vote of no confidence in the principal, Paul Di Felice. Lee has led campaigns at the college to defend education and workers’ rights.

The national union said he has been victimised as a result and is urging people to join the rally.

Rally in support of Lee Humber—Saturday 18 May, assemble 11am, Cowley Place, The Plain, Oxford OX4 1DX. Go to Oxford March for Education on Facebook. Send messages of support to [email protected] and messages of protest to [email protected]

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