Socialist Worker

Hackney Community College walkout to defend jobs and education for the community

by Richard Payne, Natfhe communications officer, Hackney Community College
Issue No. 1947

Hackney Respect candidate Dean Ryan was proud to join the strikers’ picket line

Hackney Respect candidate Dean Ryan was proud to join the strikers’ picket line


Lecturers at Hackney Community College in east London struck on Thursday of last week in protest against at least 55 redundancies.

The job cuts were announced without consultation on the last day of term before Easter.

The strike was solid, and the Shoreditch campus and the London Fields site were closed for classes.

A large throng of teachers and students gathered from early morning to evening outside the college despite the wet and cold.

The lecturers, members of the Natfhe union, were joined by support staff in Unison at lunchtime. Unison members will meet soon to consider strikes.

The following day students and staff held a lively demonstration on the campus, marching around it several times and demanding the resignation of the principal.

Natfhe members are appalled that college management did not consult adequately before it took the decision to threaten these compulsory redundancies.

This is a disgrace for a college that claims progressive employment and educational policies.

Union action made management postpone issuing redundancy notices on 4 April, but it still intends to issue them on Monday of next week, with redundancies falling on 1 May. The significance of the date is not lost on the union. Like everything about the dispute, it is characterised by gross insensitivity.

London’s Evening Standard last week ran a critical article about the college’s £857 a week course in wheel clamping.

While courses of little or no social value like this are being rolled out for profit, ones of enormous benefit to the people of Hackney such as special needs, adult literacy and numeracy, and British Sign Language are being axed.

In the run-up to the general election Hackney college lecturers are waiting to see if the Labour candidate for Hackney South, Meg Hillier, will support them.

She declined to sign a petition against the sackings on Saturday. But both the Resepct and the Green Party candidates joined our picket line. Tony Benn has also given his backing to the campaign.

The union is holding a public meeting at Hoxton Hall on Tuesday 26 April to which election candidates are invited to discuss the future of adult and further education in Hackney.


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News
Sat 16 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1947
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