Comedian gives “100%” support to UCU’s long-runniong Lambeth College contracts dispute

Jeremy Hardy addressing UCU Lambeth rally, December 2014. Pic by Tim Lezard

Jeremy Hardy addressing UCU Lambeth rally, December 2014. Pic by Tim Lezard

Comedian Jeremy Hardy visited the Lambeth College picket line during their last strike to lend his support.

The UCU members are back on strike again today in their long-running dispute over contract changes being imposed by managers at the college’s three sites of Brixton, Clapham and Vauxhall.

Jeremy Hardy, a regular on BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz, visited the picket line before Christmas.

“First, let me apologise for not being Russell Brand,” he said. “But at least I won’t try to hump any of you!”

After giving his solidarity to strikers, he spoke to USiNews about why he backed the dispute 100%.

“I’m here because I’ve known some of these teachers for many years – some of them have been teaching for over forty years – and I have absolute respect for them because nobody comes into teaching because they want to be rich or because they have a massive ego.

“People come into teaching to serve, because it’s one of the most worthwhile things you can do and I know, as a performer how hard it is being in front of people, up on your feet. Doing it for just for a couple of hours is exhausting, and doing it day after day, year after year, and doing it all day, then having all of the preparation and all of the marking and everything’s that at stake, because people’s while futures are at stake … I just have complete respect for the people here.”

The dispute at the college is caused, the union says, by the intransigence of managers, who have refused to talk to reps about new contracts. Hardy was scathing in his views of managers.

“They don’t make anything happen,” he said. “All they do – and this is happening increasingly throughout public services – is they take over, they sack people, they reduce people’s conditions.

“It’s all supposed to be rationalising, it’s all supposed to be streamlining, but they don’t actually help.

“It used to be that teachers became head teachers, and sometimes carried on teaching. At least they had some feel for it. People would have been teaching for years before they became a deputy head or a head and now people are fast-tracked into positions, and they’re not interested in teaching.

“They want to run something, they want to be in charge of something, and being in charge of something means you have to be a new broom and you have to sweep in and make a load of changes and assert yourself and shake everything up, and they’re very, very destructive people.”

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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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