why the phony war?

London based college worker Siobhan Breathnach writes about the top down nature of the UK public sector pensions dispute

We got notice of the 10th of May strike on a Friday afternoon ten days before, in the middle of an emergency meeting about redundancies. The first response was “They have got to be fucking kidding.” There was a general expression of dismay and disbelief. So what is the problem? Why weren’t we pleased about being called out? Continue reading “why the phony war?”

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lessons of the tower hamlets esol strike

Two workers who took part in the recent strike over cuts to teaching roles and student places in English for Speakers of Other Languages and other subjects spoke to The Commune about the lessons of the dispute.

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Tell us about what unions workers are in, their organising capacity, and of their previous relationship with management

All teachers are in the University and College Union. Support staff/admin staff are mainly in Unison or no union. UCU has always been strong in the college and in the two years before the strike successfully campaigned to make 60 hourly paid teachers into permanent employees with higher pay and more rights. UCU also led an unofficial walkout earlier in the year to support our longstanding caretaker who was sacked. Continue reading “lessons of the tower hamlets esol strike”

tower hamlets college: strike solid!

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: Continue reading “tower hamlets college: strike solid!”

tower hamlets college: the struggle continues!

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.

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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):

Continue reading “tower hamlets college: the struggle continues!”

report: occupation at london metropolitan university

by David Broder

At 4pm on the afternoon of Monday 11th May around thirty students began an occupation of the sixth floor canteen at the London Met building on Commercial Road in protest at sweeping cuts. Management plan to get rid of 550 posts – some 800 members of staff, one quarter of the indebted university – which will mean severe cutbacks in several subjects, such as the arts and languages.

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UCU members had staged strike action last Thursday (7th May) and although taken by surprise by the student action, several lecturers have joined the occupation. As yet management have refused to talk to the occupiers, but there seems to be strong solidarity between students, lecturers and other staff organised by UNISON, with course cuts and reduced student services the obvious outcome of attacks on the university workforce.

The nursery, key to allowing students with kids to attend London Met, as well as all but two of the libraries are also due to be slashed in order to make up for a purported £15 million budget deficit. Continue reading “report: occupation at london metropolitan university”