UCU members take action after college refused to talks to resolve increasingly bitter dispute

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Education (EI), Teachers, UCU,

UCU members at Lambeth College are today and tomorrow walking out in their ongoing dispute over contract changes.

Last week the college asked the union to suspend its action as Ofsted is inspecting the college this week. UCU offered to sit down and try to thrash out a resolution to the increasing bitter row, but the college refused the offer and sent out a press release asking UCU to suspend the action. The union said its offer of talks remains on the table, but this week’s action remained on.

The row centres on new contracts introduced by the college without consulting the union. UCU has welcomed a commitment from the college that it will not impose the new contracts on staff employed before April 2014.

However, the union remains unhappy with the two-tier employment structure the contracts have produced and wants the new contract removed or a fresh one drawn up with the union’s agreement.

More than four-fifths (83%) of UCU members who voted backed the call for action on a high turnout of 58%. In June, UCU members went out on strike for five weeks – the longest strike in the union’s history. Last week, UCU members walked out for the first time since the summer and have vowed to continue escalating their action.

If no resolution is found they will walk out for three days next week (Monday 15, Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 December) and resume their protests in the New Year, culminating in all-out indefinite strike action from Monday 19 January.

UCU regional official Una O’Brien said: ‘Last week the college asked us to suspend the action because Ofsted is in this week. We offered to meet to try and resolve the dispute. The college refused our offer and published a press release asking us to cancel the action for the duration of the Ofsted inspection.

‘We have little interest in a phoney media war, we want to resolve the dispute. We believe the best way to do that is through negotiation. Our offer to meet is still on the table.’

 


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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