By Sadie Robinson
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FE strike needs to be launchpad for more action

This article is over 8 years, 7 months old
Issue 2478

UCU union members in colleges across England were set to strike on Tuesday of next week.

Strikers want a pay rise of £1 an hour for all—and hope the action can help defend education too.

Richard McEwan is a lecturer at Tower Hamlets College in east London.

He told Socialist Worker, “When we’re on strike we’ll be thinking of the lost generation who are being denied jobs and education because of funding cuts.

“There is a crisis in further education and we need a mass campaign on this.”

College bosses have recommended a pay freeze for 2015/16. But nearly 74 percent of those voting backed strikes in a recent ballot.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt told Socialist Worker, “Members who voted gave a clear mandate for strikes.”

Lynne Chamberlain, a UCU member at Greenwich College in south London, said, “People are up for the strike, and want to see more strikes after it.”


Graham Mustin, a lecturer at Barnsley College in South Yorkshire, said, “The important thing is that this is a springboard for further action.

“We need to build on next week’s walkout.”

The attack on pay is part of a bigger assault. The Tories announced a 24 percent cut to adult education in February.

And English for Speakers of Other Languages (Esol) courses have been cut for 16,000 students who receive Job Seeker’s Allowance.

Bosses across England are announcing job cuts. Graham said, “Further education is under massive pressure. We need to make sure we’re united and fighting back.”

There is potential to build widespread support for college strikes. As Lynne explained, “There’s lots of solidarity. Greenwich and Bexley TUC is organising support from the PCS, Unison, FBU, CWU, Unite and NUT unions.”

Strikers plan to march on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in central London on the strike day.

Trade unionists should join their picket lines and march.

UCU elections

Nominations are open for seats on the UCU union’s national executive committee (NEC) and for UCU national officer. The UCU Left, which Socialist Worker supporters are part of, aims to stand several candidates.

UCU Left wants to see a campaigning union that will fight to defend workers’ jobs, pay, conditions and education.

Nominations end on Thursday of next week and ballots will take place next February.

UCU union members at the University of Manchester are balloting for strikes to save jobs. Bosses want to make 68 redundancies from a pool of 219 workers.

The ballot ends on 20 November.

A ballot for strikes of UCU union members in the Open University (OU) was set to end on Thursday of this week. OU bosses want to close seven centres across England, putting 500 jobs at risk.

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