Workplace news in brief

Fight goes further

There were picket lines at colleges up and down the country on 10 November as further education lecturers in the University and College Union (UCU) took strike action over pay. Staff are angry that the employers’ representatives, the Association of Colleges, recommended a pay freeze, despite staff suffering a real-terms pay cut of 17.1% in the last five years. Three-quarters (74%) of UCU members who voted, backed strike action after the employers rejected the joint trade unions’ pay claim of £1 an hour extra for staff. There were large rallies in Birmingham and London.

Open Uni walkout

Open University (OU) staff have voted to strike for the first time ever over up to 500 job losses and the closure of seven offices. Regional centres in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Gateshead, Leeds, London and Oxford are to shut and members will also strike at OU offices in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Milton Keynes, Manchester and Nottingham. UCU said managers were alone in thinking the plans were a good idea. Pauline Collins, of the UCU, said: “The only people who still seem to think that axing 500 jobs and closing down seven regional Open University centres is a good idea are the senior managers. The academic body at the university rejected the plans at its senate meeting and now the staff have given an overwhelming mandate for strike action for the first time in its history.”

Academy action

Teachers at the John Roan academy school in Greenwich, South London, took strike action on 10 November over unsustainable workloads. The majority of the school’s 53 staff members of the National Union of Teachers voted for strike action and formed a lively picket line of the morning of the strike. See more in next week’s issue.