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Saturday 26 May 2001
THE STRIKE by lecturers across further education on Tuesday was a huge success. They were demanding a 3,000 pay rise across the board. Everywhere lecturers new to striking joined the union, NATFHE, and joined the picket lines too. Sacha joined NATFHE on the picket line at North East London College. She told Socialist Worker, “I was going to go in to work but someone said to me, ‘Why? They don’t care about you,’ and I knew they were right.
“I’ve been here two years. I’m part time, a single mum with kids. I get no sick pay, no holiday pay and they expect me to be motivated. They’ve got me designing courses for next year when they won’t tell me whether I’ve got a job. The other week I was seriously thinking about getting a job in Sainsbury’s for extra money.” Elsewhere across England and Wales:
- There were 50 pickets outside Blackburn College, where 20 people have joined the union over the last ten days. “It was absolutely brilliant. I think it was the best strike we’ve ever had,” says a NATFHE member. “The place was dead. Socialist Alliance candidate Jim Nichol spoke to everybody on the picket line and then we went and leafleted in the town centre.”
- Some 100 lecturers were on the picket line in Norwich, and the local Socialist Alliance candidate was interviewed with the strikers.
- At South Thames College in Wandsworth there were 50 lecturers picketing across the college’s three sites. The threat of redundancies added to the feeling for the strike.
- About 40 lecturers picketed Basildon College in Essex, where the strike was 100 percent solid. Dick Duane, the local Socialist Alliance candidate, addressed the pickets to lots of applause.
- The strike at Bradford College was rock solid. Over 100 lecturers marched into town after picketing to join a rally of 150 strikers.
- Hackney College lecturers in east London were out on the picket line, with 25 pickets at the Shoreditch site. There was an excellent feeling. Socialist Alliance candidate Cecilia Prosper spoke to pickets and postal workers refused to cross.
- “This was the best strike we’ve ever had at Stockport College,” said a NATFHE member on Tuesday. “It was 100 percent solid. Eight people joined the union on the picket line, there were people who have never been on strike before out picketing, and one section of the college which was hardly unionised now has 15 union members.”
- Management at Sheffield College gave up on Tuesday in the face of the strike, and just announced that all classes were cancelled and the college was closed!
- Rotherham College was solid, with 35 people picketing. Another strike is now planned the day before the election over increasing workloads.
- Over 50 lecturers in central Manchester joined a lunchtime election hustings about further education after they’d been on the picket lines. There was fury that the Labour candidate did not even bother to turn up.
- Barnsley College was completely solid, with about 40 people on the picket line. Large numbers of non-union lecturers were turned back by the pickets, and most of the large number of agency lecturers joined the strike too. Henry Rajch, Socialist Alliance candidate for Barnsley South, visited the picket lines and got a good reception. Dave Gibson, the assistant branch secretary at the college, said, “Today’s been a brilliant demonstration of just how angry lecturers are. The unity we have seen today gives us a real base for going on to win the pay claim.”
- Some 150 lecturers joined a rally in Bristol city centre and then marched round City of Bristol College. There were delegations from Bath College, Weston-super-Mare, Filton and Soundwell colleges. Lecturers chanted, “Low pay-no way,” and, “Give us an F, give us an E, what does it spell? Poverty!”
- There was solid support for the strike at Waltham Forest College in east London, where 70 job losses are threatened. Some 150 lecturers had marched against the job cuts on Saturday of last week.