Nottingham college strike, Sept 2019, photo Gary Freeman

Nottingham college strike, Sept 2019, photo Gary Freeman   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Gary Freeman, Nottingham Socialist Party

On 11 September Nottingham College UCU strikers from various sites around the city along with trade unionists and some students congregated for a rally after the morning pickets at the Brian Clough statue in the city.

It was to show their determination to defeat the college employer’s draconian contract – involving savage cuts in terms and conditions and with pay cuts for 20% of teachers.

The strike followed a one-day strike on 28 July (UCU’s ‘Day of Yearning’ as opposed to the College’s ‘Day of Learning’) and a further 14 days of strikes are planned – 19 and 20 September, three days the following week, four days the week after, and all five days the following week.

In July 2017, John van de Laarschot, the Chief Executive of the college had written an article that appeared on the Nottingham Post (NottinghamshireLive) website – an article that brought to mind the attitude of Margaret Thatcher.

It was headlined: “Our students need tough love, says boss of Nottingham’s biggest college” Clearly, “tough” is also being applied to the staff.

This from a Chief Executive whose salary in 2017-18 was £207,000 (Education and Skills Funding Agency data) and where the college also employs a ‘Principal’. Having both roles is unknown in a Further Education college, according to strikers.