by Joe Thorne
On Wednesday, at the end of the third week of the strike, a mass meeting of Tower Hamlets College UCU members voted overwhelmingly to continue the strike: 156 for continuing action, 14 abstentions, no votes against.
The struggle suffered a setback on Monday when it emerged that the ballot for strike action of UNISON members (i.e. of admin workers at the College) failed 13 to 12. Apparently, however, a mass meeting of UNISON members last week voted 60 strong for strike action, with 3 abstentions. Some UNISON members did not receive a ballot paper (often the case in strikes – members not receiving ballots need to be chased up, and replacements must be arranged). But, in part, the result is also a reflection of an the atomising procedure that is the secret ballot: which is established in law specifically because it makes it harder to organise collective action.
However, the strike remains strong. Picket lines are always welcoming, receptive, and worth a visit. (Locations and other ideas for how you can help on our previous report.) The strike fund stands at an impressive £25,000, though with 250 striker in their fourth week without work to support, it does need to be augmented. The strike has a number of positive features which the whole movement can learn from:
- Major decisions taken in mass meetings of the membership
- Daily strike committee meetings, open to all members
- A strike bulletin (formerly produced with the help of Socialist Worker, it now appears to be published by UCU)
- Creative involvement of members, including a band (the “UCU all-stars”) and a camper van providing tea
- A stress on the broader social objectives of the strike
- A willingness, proven twice in the last year, to use unofficial action when necessary
- A high level of member involvement on the picket lines
College boss Michael Farley finally caved in and met with union representatives on Friday last week. A meeting with the involvement of arbitration body ACAS is slated, but not confirmed, for Monday. A mass meeting will follow the day after if it goes ahead. The stronger the strikers feel, the better the deal they will be able to hold out for. If you’re based in London, get down to the picket line for a visit!
Donations for strike fund
Strike fund: c/o Keith Priddle UCU THC Treasurer
Tower Hamlets College, Arbour Square Site, E1 0PT.
Sort code 089299
Account number 65252262