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Posted on 18 October 2012 at 14:30 GMT

Lecturers' strike at UEL, 18.10.12, photo Pete Mason

Lecturers' strike at UEL, 18.10.12, photo Pete Mason   (Click to enlarge)

Strike against attacks on workload at University of East London

Lecturers in the University and College Union (UCU) at the University of East London (UEL) were on strike today against increases in their workload, and the way in which management is dealing with appeals, negotiations and line management.

The UCU recently surveyed over 100 institutions in Britain to compare workloads and stress and UEL came top of the list for hours worked.

Over the past two years managers have made hundreds of UEL staff redundant; the student-staff ratio is one of the highest in Britain.

The UCU members are demanding a fair means of determining workloads, a fair appeals process within the university's staff disciplinary procedure and a commitment by management to honour agreements with the union.

Pickets outside the university welcomed lots of support from administrative colleagues and students. One commented: "Students seem particularly supportive.

"We've done pretty well. No one has said we don't support you". An admin worker called out 'Good luck guys'.

Lecturers' strike at UEL, 18.10.12

Lecturers' strike at UEL, 18.10.12   (Click to enlarge)

Steve Martin, assistant secretary, UEL UCU branch, spoke to Pete Mason, East London Socialist Party:

The strike is mainly about workload. Management want to raise workload from 1,548 hours (more or less a 35 hour week) to 1,650 hours.

In addition, they want to scrap 180 hours we have for scholarly activities. So that amounts to an increase of roughly 280 hours a year.

Additionally, at the moment if you work an evening session you don't have to work the following morning, ie more than three sessions in a row (morning, afternoon and evening).

Now they propose that if your line manager says you have to teach, you have no choice. Plus, they don't want to publish the full workload of any lecturer so the union can't make comparisons - some may get unfair extra workloads and can't tell.

And in addition to this, even if the union branch ageed to the new workload policy, the management want the right to change it without notice!

So this is the first of a series of day strike actions planned. We've had 17 meetings with management as part of the ongoing negotiations.

Management have refused to make any further changes to the workload policy document. We've tried a work to rule, and now we feel we have no alternative but to go on strike. We have national union backing, in fact they've come down on our picket lines.

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