Rally this Saturday: 2pm – 4pm Altab Ali Park, near Aldgate East Station, just south of Brick Lane.
Teachers at Tower Hamlets college are now in their third week of indefinite strike action against cuts to jobs and courses. Indefinite strike action (rare in the UK), the level of commitment and creativity shown by the strikers, and the wider social objectives of the struggle make it a crucial battle for us to support.
Visitors are welcome at picket lines outside the college’s three sites, from 7.30am each morning (though showing up at any time will be appreciated, and a list of other ways to help appears at the bottom):
The proposed cuts involve:
- 13 compulsory redundancies, and the loss of a further 40 staff (part timers, equivalent to 20 full time jobs) through voluntary redundanies, despite the employment of 15 new middle managers. (A govenor of the college earns £500,000 a year as Chairman of the Prudential.)
- The loss of around 1,000 places for ESOL – English as a second or other language – courses. These cuts will hit working class, migrant women hardest. Tower Hamlets is a centre of Bangladeshi migration due to the presence of a large existing community. Most migrants are women, who have come to live with husbands in Britain. English is a vital condition for new residents from overseas to assert their rights, gain some measure of independence and interact with other Tower Hamlets residents who don’t speak their first language (not only people born in Britain, but migrants from other countries). The cuts are therefore a direct attack on the rights of migrants, particularly Asian women, and an attack on the prospects for local working-class community cohesion.
- Many other courses are ‘access’ courses; primarily used by local working class people of every background to gain entry to further or higher education.
The community has rallied behind the strikers, and while students are no longer being asked not to cross picket lines, when they were, many stood with strikers. The strike is causing significant disruption to the college. Enrollment does not appear to have been completed on time, and most classes are currently not happening. The next vital step in the campaign is that admin staff, some of whom are organised by UNISON, are set to strike on Monday 14th September – an especially good morning to be on a picket line. However, this looks as though it will be a long dispute, so donations to the strike fund and other forms of solidarity are vital: let’s draw a line in the sand!
Further updates to follow. For up to date info, video and photos join the Facebook group: ‘Tower Hamlets – Stop the Cuts!’
Other ways to help
1. Organise a meeting at your place of work and invite a striker to come and speak.
2. Take a collection at work:
Strike fund: c/o Keith Priddle UCU THC Treasurer
Tower Hamlets College, Arbour Square Site, E1 0PT.
Sort code 089299
Account number 65252262
3. Send urgent messages of support to:
Richard McEwan (Branch Sec) 07532364638 firstname.lastname@example.org
Alison Lord (Branch Chair) 07805819605 email@example.com
John Budis (Branch Sec) 07967893664 firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Write to the Principal Michael.email@example.com
5. Come to the rally on Saturday 12th September, from 2pm to 4pm. It will be held at Altab Ali Park, near Aldgate East Station, just south of Brick Lane.
7. For up to date info, video and photos join the Facebook group: ‘Tower Hamlets – Stop the Cuts!’
8. Write to your MP: www.theyworkforyou.com