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Year 2009 No. 64, September 29, 2009 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Victory of the Tower Hamlets FE Teachers

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Victory of the Tower Hamlets FE Teachers

September 29: Day of Action

Determined Strikes at Five Further Education Colleges

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Victory of the Tower Hamlets FE Teachers

Teaching staff at Tower Hamlets FE College have won a victory in their 21-day strike action against compulsory redundancies. They returned to work a few days ago having not only stopped all compulsory redundancies in admin, support and youth work, but having saved over 300 Esol (English for speakers of other languages) places, stopped cuts to A level hours, and saved the mentorship scheme that provides learning mentors for vital one-to-one support with over 700 young people. WDIE warmly congratulates the Tower Hamlets strikers on their victory. While it is necessary to remain vigilant that the agreement worked out between the UCU (University and College Union) and the College management at ACAS is actually implemented by the college, the firm stand of the lecturers and the support they have received from their colleagues has ensured the success of their struggle. It was a struggle in favour of a pro-social society and for the right to education, and for the security of all.

            The struggle also strengthened the union and was an inspiration to many other FE lecturers, and was an example of collective action and decision-making. This is important, because the anti-social offensive is set to intensify further, and all sections of society must strengthen their organisations and get further organised. The Tower Hamlets strikers were able to make a contribution to elaborating among the people why such actions are not for narrow ends but are in defence of the rights of all, and in particular for the right of the people to an education that serves their needs and enables them to fully participate in society. As such, the strike was a stepping stone to the consciousness that it is the people organised around their claims on society who must become the decision-makers in society as a whole.

            The Tower Hamlets FE teachers are well aware that while they have achieved success in their important battle, the struggle to defend education against the anti-social offensive, especially in the present conditions of the financial crisis, is a campaign which begins again. This is all the more so since the fight is not simply against the management of an individual college, but against a government policy dictated by the requirements of big business and enforced against the people’s will. The experience gained in this battle is an important foundation in the further struggles. This is also important because the anti-social offensive attacks also the workers’ organisations and the people’s consciousness and thinking, and the antidote to this is the conscious participation of all in the issues that affect their lives and their ability to have control over them.

            The workers’ and people’s movements for their rights can begin from this new baseline and develop from it step by step, and these movements will also give rise to their own worker and people’s politicians.

Warm congratulations to the Tower Hamlets staff!

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September 29: Day of Action

In accordance with an emergency motion passed at the UCU special sector conference on salaries, today, September 29, is a day of action over funding for FE and in solidarity with the staff of those colleges who are yet struggling against cuts in funding and compulsory redundancies.

            Tower Hamlets has shown that the security of the FE teachers and lecturers, as well as the well-being of the communities they serve and education as a whole, lies in their determination to fight for what is just.

            It has shown that concessions are not the way forward to secure jobs or the standard of education, and that concessions do not provide solutions to the crisis and the threats of cuts, redundancies and the destruction of educational facilities in an all-round way. The watchword is and has to be that an injury to one is an injury to all, that your fight is our fight, that your victory is our victory.

            These lessons and principles are of crucial importance in working out the way to respond to the economic and financial crisis. People are fearful that once the looming public sector cuts intensify, the FE sector is going to be facing job losses, including compulsory redundancies, and this of course applies to all sectors of society and the socialised economy, particularly public services.

            Experience is showing that to make concessions in wage demands and, if necessary, to accept what would amount to pay cuts in order to help colleges out financially is not the way forward and will not secure jobs or guarantee the right to education. Rather, the people’s security and the defence of their rights lies in their own fight, whether on the front of defending their standard of living, in defending their livelihoods or defending their claims on society in terms of social programmes, health, education and so on.

Our security lies in our fight!

Article Index

Determined Strikes at Five Further Education Colleges

University and College Union, September 25, 2009

Five Further Education colleges across the country will be brought to a standstill on Tuesday, September 29, in a row over their failure to honour a pay deal agreed over five years ago.

            Members of UCU will be out in force on picket lines at Doncaster College, Rotherham College, Greenwich College, Suffolk New College, and Leeds College of Art.

            All five colleges have categorically refused to honour a ground-breaking national pay deal thrashed out in 2004. The deal should have a left a mid-ranking FE lecturer earning £4,511 more a year. The union has described the failure by those colleges still to honour the 2004 deal as one of the longest IOUs from management to staff in the history of industrial relations.

            UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “The colleges only have themselves to blame for today's disruption. The staff are not greedy; they are merely asking for the money they should have been paid five years ago. It is the intransigence of the IOU colleges that has pushed members' patience too far and forced them into today's industrial action.

            “Nobody involved with any of the colleges wants to see industrial action and unnecessary disruption. Flexible agreements have been agreed at a host of other colleges with serious financial difficulties to implement the deal, so there really is no excuse for these colleges to continue to refuse paying their staff fairly.”

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