Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/417/4753

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.

Huddersfield

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:

Colleges:

triangleLeeds college pay protests

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

Strike:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleRMT strikes against driver-only operation continue

triangleHackney school cleaners strike

triangleHome care workers to strike

College:

trianglePlans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleLeeds college workers protest poor pay rises

triangleWe can win the vote at 16!

Huddersfield:

triangle'Hands around HRI' to save Huddersfield A&E

triangleKirklees bin workers ballot for strike over schedule and bullying

Education:

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Fighting for free education

Pay:

triangleSalford Socialist Party: Pay Up Now - Public sector workers need a pay rise!

Socialist:

triangleTeesside Socialist Party: 'Fake' Trump! What's really going on in the US?

Lecturers:

triangleBrighton Uni lecturers strike against job cuts

Socialist Party:

triangleTheatre: 'Young Marx' shows growth in great platform for his ideas

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

17/1/18

Women

Socialist Party women's meeting brings together members to share experiences

17/1/18

Newham

Packed Newham meeting against academies

17/1/18

Liverpool

Lobby pushes Liverpool council to oppose privatisation

17/1/18

Barking

Heating scandal on east London estate

17/1/18

Policing

Undercover policing legal challenge

17/1/18

Woolwich

No to the Woolwich monster block

17/1/18

Union

Workplace news in brief

17/1/18

Union

PCS union 2018 elections - nominate the left slate for a continued fighting leadership

17/1/18

Hackney

Hackney school cleaners strike

17/1/18

RMT

RMT strikes against driver-only operation continue

17/1/18

Yorkshire

Ferrybridge: Workers down tools over unpaid wages

17/1/18

Cuts

We must fight all council cuts!

17/1/18

Socialist Party

Southern Socialist Party conference

16/1/18

Birmingham

Home care workers to strike

12/1/18

Waltham Forest

Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


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

triangle17 Jan Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangle17 Jan NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangle17 Jan We must fight all council cuts!

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

More ...

triangle23 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?

triangle23 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangle24 Jan Caerphilly Socialist Party: The Carillion scandal

triangle24 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Carillion collapse - Watershed moment for public services

More ...

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

Archive

Archives:

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2