Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 24 November 2005

FE colleges on strike!

LECTURERS AT many further education (FE) colleges in England were on strike on 16 November in a battle for a fair pay deal. Socialist Party members across the country sent us reports from the picket lines.


THE HEADLINES of the local Huddersfield press screamed 'Tech Fury' following the successful lecturers' strike. It coincided with the all-out strike by the college's caretakers, which is now in its fourth week. Joint NATFHE and UNISON picket lines were on all entrances to the college.

Mike Forster

NATFHE branch Secretary, Marie Lewis, explained what has been happening at the college over the last few years. The government has cut funding for adult education classes and therefore fees have gone up. Yet 80% of students at the college are over 19. Numbers are now starting to drop as mature students cannot afford the extra costs.

So far students have collected 1,000 signatures in protest at the cuts. The college is also axing vocational courses, affecting staff numbers and staff morale. There have been a handful of voluntary redundancies and all classes are down.

The college management are attempting to bypass union consultation and negotiation. The new college principal, Chris Sadler, imposed a pay deal without any negotiation, it was just announced at a staff meeting! Staff were given 2% from last August and 0.8% from January, falling far short of the national claim.

The caretakers' strike is having a big impact. Management are ignoring basic health and safety, as well as security. A class of students were locked in the college one day, and had to wander around in the dark for almost an hour until they could find their way out!

The caretakers' strike began straight after half term. There are 19 of them and almost all of them are involved in regular picket duty.

15 cleaners have so far refused to cross picket lines and are being sustained by the union hardship fund. The management are trying to recruit extra cleaners but on their wages, they are not having much success. So managers and personnel officers have to get up at the crack of dawn, don their marigolds and get their hands dirty!

Dave Ellis, UNISON steward, came to speak to the Socialist Party in the first week of the dispute. The background to their pay claim was the victory for all school caretakers, including the Jarvis-employed workers, to secure a big pay rise last year.

Naturally UNISON informed the college caretakers they were now even more underpaid. The workforce is on two different rates of pay, both under 12,000 a year. Kirklees school caretakers now start on around 15,000 and can earn up to 22,000.

A claim was lodged in 2004 which the college knocked back. After a successful strike ballot, all they could promise was job evaluation next year.

Dave explained to his members that they would have to prepare for an all-out strike. In his experience, one-day or even five-day strikes just give managers time to ride out the storm. The members voted overwhelmingly to support his call. All those who voted against the action have been on the picket line. The strike remains solid.

Dave is determined his members will not be undersold. He told us: "You can go to management and ask for the moon, you might not get it but at least you tried. But if you go and ask for peanuts, peanuts is all you will get."

Dave was impressed with the seriousness of our younger members and explained that the long-term solution to low pay was a socialist government, linked to a socialist world! No argument with that.

Socialist Party members have been visiting freezing picket lines regularly and we are now organising the brilliant young students who joined the mass picket last week. They too have been threatened by the college principal about their future conduct.

London - City and Islington college

NATFHE MEMBERS at City and Islington College in London organised a local march to defend education and to demand equal pay for equal work.
A large proportion of workers in the education sector are only paid for the hours they are at work.
This leaves them without pay during school holidays. According to speakers at the rally, only catering has a higher degree of casualised labour in Britain today.
The socialist spoke to Leila Gorbach, an adult literacy teacher at City and Islington College.

Leila explained that they were out on strike because they were left with no other choice as the college had failed to implement all aspects of the pay agreement which had been negotiated for August last year.

The majority of teaching staff at City and Islington College are paid hourly and therefore are incredibly exploited. This coincides with a general roll back in working conditions in other areas. As part of privatisation of education and other services, management want to pay less wages.

"Being a teacher on hourly pay has very little job security. We are currently paid about 22 an hour which maybe sounds a lot but we are only paid for teaching time. It does not account for preparation or administration, or for all the other tasks that are demanded.

"There is a need for further action if our demands are not met. This is a political issue. Privatisation of education and other services is a clear result of Tony Blair's New Labour policies."

Leicester college

NATFHE Pickets at Freemen's campus of Leicester college were well prepared. Lecturers from the catering department had a mobile barbecue to supply pickets with bacon rolls! But they were there for serious reasons.

Steve Score

One picket said:

"It is not just about the money, it is also about feeling valued. I do many hours of unpaid overtime.

"If you worked out what we are paid based on our real hours then it may well be less than the minimum wage!"

Leicester university Socialist Students delivered a letter of support to the picket line.

Lancashire and Manchester

SOCIALIST PARTY members visited colleges across Lancashire, including Lancaster, Preston and Blackburn.

Hugh Caffrey

At Manchester's City College, the pickets and supportive students were even joined by "Sooty" and "Sweep"!

City College lecturers also walked out on 15 November as management still refuse to implement the national pay agreement.

Lecturing was completely shut down on both days, with staff protesting at increased workload, loss of 12 days holiday and the restructuring of departments, leading to higher workload and less pay.

The annual hiring and firing of temporary staff and a drip-feed of redundancies are blatant management attempts to undermine morale and the union.

A lecturer from Wigan College reported how, compared to an earlier local ballot, the vote for national strike action had significantly strengthened - provoked by the merger of Wigan and Leigh Colleges, and the threat to FE-based sixth forms as the government pushes for "skills-based learning" across further education.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 24 November 2005:

Don't let 'fat cats' axe our NHS

Save our health service

Campaign for a new workers' party

Big business destroying the planet

On the threshold of genderquake?

Demo opposes deportations

The Constant Gardener directed by Fernando Mereilles

Iraq - anger grows at brutal occupation

Turbulent politics as Sharon divorces Likud

Big gains for United Socialist Party

Venezuela: Stop the repression of trade unionists

Sheffield bus protest

Defending jobs, services and rights

FE colleges on strike!


Home   |   The Socialist 24 November 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleCollege workers ballot for action in Nottingham

triangleCommunity and artists campaign to save Todmorden College

triangleMilitant mood against college job cuts

triangleCorbyn's alternative for young people

triangleResist Trump and his rotten policies: why I'm walking out on 'Day X'


triangleArriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleStriking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni


triangleUniversity of Leeds workers walk out

triangleFreshers week campaigning reports

triangleFight for free education


triangleHuddersfield A&E closure goes to judicial review

triangleHuddersfield A&E closure referred to Jeremy Hunt


triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now


triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses


triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?


triangleWelsh college strike against crippling workload

Socialist Party:

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay


Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?



Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni


Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers



Balloting members on the pay cap



'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future



Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison


South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP



Uprising to save the NHS!



Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?


East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!


North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses



Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems



Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now



Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

More ...

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

triangle25 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice