Lecturers at City of Glasgow College are striking against cuts and redundancies, including compulsory sackings. They are at the forefront of a national struggle against assaults on further education and students.
Lecturers at the college in the EIS-Fela union began a strike this week and are set to be out for four days each week for the following three weeks. This builds on action short of strike already in place at the college.
By the end of the academic year college management are set to axe up to 100 lecturers’ posts. Bosses have already slashed teaching time which means lecturers have less contact with students and are also given extra classes to teach. This increases lecturers’ workload—and more cuts to teaching time are planned for the next academic year.
An EIS-Fela spokesperson at City of Glasgow College said, “The loss of potentially hundreds of lecturers through redundancy and cuts means that valuable skills and expertise in subject areas will be gone and some courses will be cut.
“This could have a devastating impact on the ability of the College to provide further education for the people of Glasgow and surrounding areas. Lecturers are taking a stand to protect jobs, and to preserve the quality of educational experience for learners of all ages at City of Glasgow College.”
EIS member Angela McCormick told Socialist Worker, “We now have almost every college in Scotland announcing redundancies and closures of courses and student services. It is deliberate and coordinated.
“A victory in Glasgow would lift everyone’s spirits and show that we can win. That’s why everyone should back the strikes.”
EIS members across Scotland’s 26 further education colleges rejected the bosses’ offer of a 2 percent pay rise in December.
The 78 percent voted for strikes and 94 percent for action short of strike on a 53 percent turnout.
EIS leaders decided to implement action short of strike. This includes withholding student results and not inputting them from college systems. This hits students, and could impact their university places.
But students are showing solidarity with the lecturers’ resistance. Among them are Sher Khalid-Ali, Kimberley Rose, Amanda Richford and Kerri-Anne McGhee, students at New College Lanarkshire, Cumbernauld.
Together they have formed a group called Student Action, putting forward the message “our results matter” and standing with their lecturers.
Khalid-Ali told the Herald newspaper, “We are all mature students, we’ve all returned to education after being out of it for years.
“We’re on a SWAP (Scottish Wider Access Programme) where we do a year at college, and if you pass all your assessments you get into uni.
“I think I speak for all of us when I say that before this we were unemployed, on benefits, and if you’d told me before I went on the access course that I could have got to uni I’d have laughed in your face.
“We got to college and our lecturers taught us, ‘this is what you can do, these are not skills you don’t have, they’re just skills you have to learn’. It put us in a position where we thought, ‘we can do this’.
“Our lecturers are amazing, I’ll remember them for the rest of my life. They helped us with our Uni applications, they helped us with personal statements – they don’t have to do those things.
“It feels like they’ve done everything for us to get us to the point where we’re ready to go to Uni, and college management has said ‘we don’t care enough to end this dispute for our students’.
“Surely when the first minister is talking about how he’s determined to end poverty, you fund the sector that does that?
“You don’t restrict people’s social mobility by stopping colleges getting funding.
“The more I’ve researched it I’ve started to think it’s a class issue, because working class people don’t generally go from school straight to uni— we have to take the stop-gap of college because there isn’t a direct bridge there.”
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