Workers at Newham Sixth Form College (NewVic) in east London kicked off a series of strikes on Thursday. NEU union members are fighting against a series of bosses’ attacks, including changing workers’ contracts without consultation.
Striker Adam told Socialist Worker, “We have a management that is very authoritarian and disciplinarian and that has brought in a raft of punitive policies. The curriculum is under-resourced. We’ve also had lots of cuts to administrative support and security.
“This has a huge impact on the college by making our job more difficult, but also the students don’t get the proper support that they need. Our working conditions are their learning conditions.”
This fight is the third dispute in the last 12 months at NewVic. Strikes Last year they beat back academisation plans, but management have gone on the offensive again.
Workers say their two reps—both stalwart anti-racist activists—were accused of racism in an alleged attempt to break the union. In response, 100 NewVic staff signed a petition and chanted, “Defended our reps,” on the picket line on Thursday.
Pickets held placards reading, “Senior learning team, listen to me,” and, “My voice, our voice.” Strikers then discussed where next for their fight at a rally—where they unanimously voted to escalate to three days a week.
Adam said, “This is our second local strike in recent months, which just indicates how bad relations with management are. When we raise an issue, we are ignored and dismissed. We see a prioritisation of corporate and financial interests as money is wasted on expensive consultants.”
Workers are determined to keep up the fight. NewVic workers plan to walk out again on Tuesday of next week—and for three days in the week beginning 20 March.
They’re also set to strike on Wednesday and Thursday of next week as part of the NEU national strikes for pay. Over half a million teachers, university and civil service workers, junior doctors and others plan to come out on the Wednesday.
“Union members feel strong that this is about the future success of the college,” said Adam. “There’s also lots of support for the pay campaign—these things are linked. The Conservative government not funding education properly is resulting in local managements acting with impunity towards staff.”
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