College protest against job losses

Hull college: lunchtime protest against job losses

Mick Whale

Over 100 Hull College staff and students protested against the planned axing of up to 400 jobs at the college.

Walking out over their lunch break they heard speakers from the local trade union movement who see the scale of the redundancies as an attack on the city as a whole.

Particularly well received were Ellie and Annie, two criminology students who explained that the college was happy to take student money for course fees but now was planning to cut back on that course provision.

Matt Whale, speaking as International Officer of Hull Trades Council, got a rousing cheer when he explained that the government could spend money bombing Syria but was not prepared to invest in education for the next generation. “The college should be brought back into public ownership and run democratically for the people of Hull”, he said.

Tony Smith from the FCC waste dispute also spoke and many students are looking to join their picket line when that starts again in a week’s time.

Overshadowing the protest, which was organised by Hull Trades Council, were threats and intimidation from the management.

An email sent out the day before from the college’s HR had threatened any staff member with disciplinary action for taking unauthorised strike action if they went on the protest. Scandalously it accused the Trades Council of “bad mouthing” the college.

As Unison chair Andy Stankard pointed out in his contribution: “It seems that the management can’t distinguish between a lunchtime protest and a strike, which is worrying seeing as they are going to be negotiating around important aspects of employment law”. He continued: “It is the trade unions that are supporting the college, it is management which is making redundancies and cutting courses!”

As well as trying to intimidate the staff, despite being “cash strapped”, the management organised for a subsidised ice cream van to be on the other side of the campus for the students, with a local mobile radio station.

These attempts to stop the protest failed dismally. In fact they show how worried the management is.

Both staff and students feel emboldened as a result. This is the first in what will be a series of events in Hull to stop the management plans.