‘LET’S CONTINUE!’ say Lambeth College strikers

Lambeth College strikers at their lunchtime rally yesterday
Lambeth College strikers at their lunchtime rally yesterday

LAMBETH College UCU began an indefinite strike yesterday in their escalating struggle against the imposition of new contracts.

The new contracts would take away both holiday and sick pay. Over 100 turned out at a mass rally at midday at the Clapham site.

Frank Innes, who teaches at the Vauxhall site, said: ‘I think we should stay out and reject the offer.

‘There are a whole number of lecturers who want to carry on with the strike. I think we have more to gain by continuing the action.’

He was responding to the offer announced by Mandy Brown UCU branch secretary at Lambeth College.

She announced that a new offer had been made by management and said: ‘We vote on Wednesday on whether to accept or reject this offer. If we accept we go back to work on Thursday. Sorry to put it so brutally it is the best offer we have had so far.’

Una O’Brien, from the UCU national leadership, added: ‘There will be an open and free debate on the offer on Wednesday.’

The new offer protects the contracts of lecturers who joined before April 2014. However all new starters who joined after that date will be on a new inferior contract. The feeling amongst the Lambeth lecturers was to reject the offer.

Jenny Sutton, from CONEL college in Tottenham said: ‘Our college is about to ballot for strike action, what they are doing is similar to what they want to impose on you.

‘My college governors and management are looking at what happens at Lambeth and you have shown that you are prepared to stand and fight. UCU members are also looking to you and you are an inspiration to them.’

Zeina Ekuban, a Lambeth lecturer, told News Line: ‘I have been working here for fifteen years and I feel that I deserve to have my contract protected so I can continue to do a good job as a teacher.’

Angus Pickthall, a lecturer at Lambeth, said: ‘I would like to respond to principal Silverman’s letter to striking lecturers. The letter says “I am sure that you understand that it is irresponsible for the branch to discourage learners from attending their classes in the college . . . Learners attending alternative classes will be marked as absent which may affect them financially.”

‘My response is that a principal who just got a £17,000 pay increase is now attacking students who get little or no support in the form of bursaries, anyway we have not been telling students not to attend classes.’