LECTURERS AT Leicester College began an indefinite strike on Monday against management's introduction of an unnegotiated contract. This contract removes four days holiday and introduces the possibility of unlimited Saturday working. Management claimed they had more people who had signed the contract than voted for strike action and that the college would run as normal with no classes needing to be cancelled.
These claims proved to be as credible as the stories about weapons of mass destruction. The number of pickets on the college's four sites was the best ever. Well over 100 members were picketing on the first morning. Only handfuls of teaching staff went in to work.
Very few students went in either, and those that did were leaving again by mid-morning when they found that many of their classes had been cancelled. Post Office workers refused to cross the picket line and FBU members visited a picket line with a warming bottle of rum!
Strikers were to hold a social event on Wednesday night and intend organising a contingent to join a demonstration in Leicester this Saturday protesting at cuts in the Voluntary Sector and Adult and Community Learning proposed by the Tory/Lib Dem council.
RUSS ESCRITT, regional Natfhe official
PEOPLE SAY this dispute is about everything management have done to us. It is about whether we have a union at all and whether management will ever learn to take no for an answer. I have never seen such a buzz around a dispute before. Throughout the last year, our union branch has repeatedly voted to take action if management imposed changes.
The meetings were big, the votes unanimous. Management were just so into themselves, they simply couldn't read the writing on the wall. The first day on the picket lines was fantastic. One group of students turned up with placards supporting us and stayed for an hour. People you would never have imagined being here have turned up. There is no need to settle for crumbs.
SWANSEA University has announced the closure of its sociology, anthropology, philosophy and chemistry departments and the closure of its Centre for Development Studies (CDS). These departments account for 30 jobs and 6 percent of undergraduate students. This is a major attack on jobs. People learned about the proposed closures from the media and are very angry. There was no proper discussion over the closures.
The scale of the attack is amazing. The AUT needs to respond in kind. Students planned to hold an emergency general meeting this week. Many activists were calling for occupations.
Send messages of support to Jo Davies, AUT Secretary, Swansea University.