96% yes vote for an all out indefinite strike against cuts to sick pay and holidays, and increased hours – so Lambeth college’s management run to the courts to get an injunction to stop them. This was already a local issue of national importance, with other colleges threatening similar attacks. Now Lambeth college principal Mark Silverman has turned it into an issue for the entire trade union movement by denying his employees their democratic right to protest.
The changes to contracts will mean an extra 5 weeks work a year with no extra pay, and a cut in sick pay from 6 months on full pay and 6 months on half pay, to 4 months on full pay and 2 months on half pay. The only figure management can come up with for how much this will save the college is £20,000 for the cut in sick pay – a facility only used by workers in extremely difficult circumstances, for example cancer. So management are saying they are no longer prepared to support staff in such difficulties – but they are happy to spend £35,000 refurbishing an office for Silverman that he only uses for a maximum of one day a week. Meanwhile many lecturers report having to go to the stationers themselves to buy pens and paper for the students out of their own money.
This is all happening against a backdrop of management plans to shut down the 100 year old Brixton centre of the college, which is being sold off to make way for the Trinity Academy free school – a school run by people who are openly looking to attract children from the influx of rich white newcomers to Brixton.
Lecturers in the University and College Union (UCU) are now reballoting for all out indefinite strike action, and support workers in UNISON are doing the same.
Footage from the strike on Mayday, culminating in Lambeth college strikers marching with Brixton Ritzy strikers fighting for the London living wage. As resentment grows against the rapid gentrification of Lambeth and the fastest rising house prices in Britain, more and more locals are drawing a line in the sand and saying: Enough is enough.