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Going all out to win at Lambeth College

By Jeremy Dewar

Like many further education establishments, Lambeth College is facing devastating cuts. Unlike most, however, its workforce has come out fighting – in an all-out indefinite strike.

Teachers in the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) have been on strike since 3 June, demanding the withdrawal of new contracts which will, with no extra pay,

• Add an hour onto the working week
• Cut holidays by two weeks
• Slash sick pay, impoverishing anyone suffering long-term sickness

In his short time at the college, the principal Mark Silverman has done everything to alienate the local community.

He has overseen the selling off of two-thirds of the Brixton site to “educational” chancers who want to set up two free schools; he has cut staff numbers and courses and gone running to the courts to get an injunction against the UCU.

To add insult to injury, Silverman spent £35,000 refurbishing his office in the middle of these cuts!

Silverman used Britain’s world-infamous anti-union laws to force the UCU to call off its first strike on the spurious basis that some workers may not have understood the question. Teachers responded by re-balloting and returning to the picket line a month later.

Now he is claiming the staff are divided, but he is also coming unstuck here as Lambeth Unison members have also voted – by 84 per cent – for an all-out strike. They will start a two-day strike on 11 June, with the regional officer saying they may extend this if the turnout is strong.

That’s not right. Unison members are demanding the union backs an indefinite strike alongside UCU. It is all well and good saying the strike must be solid, but Unison has an obligation to back the UCU all the way – anything less would amount to scabbing.

Jim, a Unison member who has been on every picket line since Day One, says, “We plan to make this a very active strike with ‘teach-outs’, a hair and nail bar, and other activities for the students.”

Dave from UCU is looking at ways to extend the strike, “We want to get the security guards and cleaners unionised and out on strike. CONEL college in Tottenham may also come out, too. There’s more we can do to win this.”

Messages of support to:

Send donations to: Mandy Brown c/o Lambeth Trades Council, Hambrook House, Porden Road, London SW2 5RW.
Bank details: Halifax • Account name: J Eldon • Sort code: 11-01-07 • Account number: 11242869

Pickets at Clapham Common South Side: 7-11am Monday-Friday

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