Pickets in Brixton Hill, Clapham and Vauxhall as Lambeth College strike enters third day

College strike
ANGRY: Lecturers and college staff man a picket line in the rain yesterday

There are picket lines in Brixton and Clapham this morning as Lambeth College staff enter the third day of an indefinite strike over new contracts.

In a ballot, 89 per cent of members of the University College Union (UCU) backed the call for industrial action against changed working conditions and benefits for all staff.

Picket lines outside campuses in Brixton Hill, Clapham Common and Vauxhall have been manned from 7.30am every day.

The contracts, brought in by the college from April for new staff only, will mean they work longer hours, will work during the traditional college holidays, and will have less sick pay.

UCU representative Mandy Little said: “There has been massive support for the strike from both staff and students, and we’ve closed down whole departments.

College strike placard
PLACARD: Unions blame college principal Mark Silverman for the contract changes

“Teaching will suffer massively under these contracts. They are awful and simply lead to a division in the workforce.

“How can you have a situation where some people are getting different benefits and holidays to someone else doing the same job?”

Union representatives blame principal Mark Silverman for the changes, saying that they will continue to strike until the new contracts are withdrawn.

But Silverman called the strike “irresponsible and unnecessary and the new terms and said the conditions were the same as “most other colleges”.

College strikeToday (Wednesday) Silverman offered a free lunch to all staff who crossed the picket line, according to the UCU.

Silverman told the Blog: “The new contracts are for new staff and don’t affect existing staff and this is all about ensuring that Lambeth College is fit for the future.

Mark Silverman Lambeth College
DEFIANT: Mark Silverman defended the new contracts

“In the last two years the college has seen a remarkable turn around. When I came here it was the week after we failed an Ofsted inspection . Now our applications are on the up and we’ve opened new provision in hospitality, catering and motor vehicles.

“It’s unfortunate that, in the journey we’re on, UCU have been blocking progress and change along the way.”

Silverman added that funding problems were out of his control – as the Government has cut adult education funding by 15 per cent.

He said: “The college is open for business, most of our staff are in work and most of our classes are running. All exams are taking place. I’m always open to dialogue.” But he added: “The new contract is not up for discussion.”


  1. Interesting that the head honcho Sally Hunt from UCU did not address the strikers today as was much publicised. Is there a distancing of the senior ranks from the local militants ???

  2. Why do the SWP have a poster attacking Gove, when, as any fule knowe, Lambeth College comes under Vince Cable?

    Jumping on another bandwagon without looking first again,, typical.
    Bring back the IMG. Better class of Trot.

  3. I am appalled by some of the comments here that show a total lack of understanding of the teaching environment. This government is attempting to reduce education to another profit-centre, and forgetting that teachers and lecturers are on the front line for ALL young people all across the UK.

    As for the summer break period, many staff make use of that much needed recuperation time to do a lot of voluntary and charitable work. You will be hard pressed to find too many of us just sitting on a beach for the whole of July.

    I use almost all the time away from the College where I teach, working with special needs kids in a state-run elementary school in the Philippines. This is just one tiny example of the thousands of educators across our land who give back unrelentingly running summer community projects, assisting the disadvantaged, and giving back to those in the developing world.

    • So what you are saying is that every summer you have a mini-gap-year in the Philippines.

      You, sir, are beyond parody.

    • Mr Ruffle your response really does not stack up. I know of many individuals who do many admirable things for the community both here and abroad, and don’t feel the need to publicise their efforts to justify anything.

      please do not assume that just because we are not teachers, that (a) we do not know what is going on in the sector and (b) that you are the only hard worked profession on the planet.

      its offensive to assume we don’t get it. We do, however, we do not agree with the way in which it is being handled.

      please do not hate us for having an opinion.

  4. Striking Teachers that claim to have it the hardest and try to justify their 50days leave. I got a question for you, do policemen/women, nurses, paramedics, firemen/women get or deserve as much as 50 days holiday? Do they work less than you or is their work not as important as yours? I think they all get paid far less than most of you.
    Let’s also look at us ‘ordinary’ folk; I’m sorry I didn’t train as a teacher; does that mean my opinion is not worth putting forward? Last time I checked, you are all paid via government funding, vis-à-vis through taxes vis-à-vis through people like me working, paying taxes and only getting 25 days holiday.
    I don’t know if you have checked the real world, but there are a hell of a lot of families under huge financial strain, who earn far less in money and holiday entitlement. You don’t see them striking. You should all be very ashamed of your actions.
    I have nothing but respect for any teacher who has chosen not to strike; you have the respect of the masses and not the few who think they have any moral high ground in striking.

    • You make some very good points.

      How did change come about in the past? How can you get better working condition? or is it a race to bottom, with the cheapest labour and maximum profits. At what point do you draw the line. A pay freeze for 5 years and no chance of a pay rise for the next two. then extra work each week, 10 days less holiday (which is time away from the office but often used to do marking and planning)

      I wish to go back to work support my student also i am committed to my union who have supported
      staff to receive fair and equal treatment and defended pay and conditions.

      If Management and Union could talk and compromise we would be back in work, the solutions are simple the EGO’s are complex.

  5. Ahhh… That old “teachers get cushty holidays” argument, again.

    Well, as a teacher, let me just say, try doing the job first. Sign up to a PGCE course in your local area, it’s only 9 months.Then come back here, and we will discuss those “holidays”.

    Our working conditions are your learning conditions.

  6. Why does the main image show a Socialist Worker poster? Are they the UCU’s media partner in this whole depressing exercise?

    • Q1 I Don’t know i suppose you would need to ask the person who took the photo.

      Q2 No.

      Come along and find out why we are here. The more you know the better you are able to judge.

  7. These strikers are a joke! They complain about cutting holidays when they will get 50 days , I only get 20 days where I work. How do I apply for a job at the college ??

    • the proposed changes to the contract will see the holidays go from 50 to 40 days, the reduction in sick pay, and an additional hour of teaching a week. this is on top of a pay freeze for the past 5 year. along with this the college has needed to reduce its staffing over the past 5 year with people regular having the reduce there hours or loss there jobs.

      to get a job within teaching you have to have spend considerable investment in gaining the qualifications and skills needed to do the job which is not always suited to all. i have added a link so you can see the what you would need to do to work towards getting a teaching job


  8. Sorry Anon you should not expect Susan to do you or the Union any good will. I hope she read the small print when you signed for your lunch. if you signed you agreed that you would get the contract as it stands and you would not get any of the benefits that the Union gain.

    MS (mildly sarcastic)

  9. As a member of staff working at the college and supporting learners I appreciate the free lunch. There is no lunch for staff breaking the strike, this is usual nonsense and lies being put out by UCU, the lunch is a good will gesture for those of us who care about learners.

    Those on strike want to wake up and see the contract for new staff is still on a par and more generous than most. There are a few hard liners who seem hell bent on destroying the college. If they think it is so bad they should go work elsewhere !!!

    • I am plesed you feel that the meal in a good will gesture, i hope that you will do the good will gesture of giving any benifits that the union gains for all the staff at the college.

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