‘THE MONEY’S there. We want our share!’ said striking lecturers at Lewisham Southwark College in southeast London yesterday morning. Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the college began two days of action, yesterday and today, in a row over pay.
This came after talks between the union and college on Wednesday failed to resolve the dispute. Striking staff were on picket lines from 8am and will be again today at the college’s Lewisham and Southwark sites.
The action follows walkouts in May and UCU has warned that further disruption is on the cards if the college refuses to sort out the pay issue. UCU said the college had to shoulder the blame for the disruption after years of real-terms pay cuts. Staff have been offered only one pay increase (of just 1%) in five years and, unlike other London colleges, they don’t receive the London weighting allowance.
Lewisham Southwark UCU branch secretary Pascale Herriman told News Line on the Lewisham picket line yesterday: ‘This dispute started back in March.
‘We haven’t had increments. People who joined six or seven years ago are still on very low wages. ‘Also there is no London Weighting. ‘We are out for two days now and will be escalating our action in October.’
UCU head of further education Andrew Harden said: ‘The college must shoulder the blame for the disruption this week. ‘Strike action is always a last resort but, in the face of repeated real-terms pay cuts and the refusal to implement London weighting, staff feel they have been left with no option but to walk out. ‘We remain available for talks and are keen to get this dispute resolved, but the college needs to come back to the table with a decent and fair offer.’
The action comes just days after the college announced that it will be splitting into two separate colleges, a move which the union says must be the catalyst for improvements for staff, students and the local community.