Strike continues at Lambeth College

College strike placard

Picket lines in Brixton and Clapham remained strong this week as staff at Lambeth College continue to strike, while Unison has announced that its staff members will be striking this Wednesday and Thursday too.

College staff are protesting against a contract brought in by the college from April for new staff only, which will mean they work longer hours, will work during the traditional college holidays, and will have less sick pay.  

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) walked out indefinitely last Tuesday June 3. Students have received text messages telling them to stay away from College as their classes have been cancelled.

The UCU also hit out at Lambeth College yesterday, claiming the institution has a much higher than average staff turnover. It points to a report mentioned in recent board meeting minutes which shows the staff turnover is 24%, compared to the national average of 18%.  A UCU spokesperson said: “Slashing people’s benefits and increasing their working hours will not fix this problem.

“Staff have been on strike for a week already now. The time has come for the college to come back to the negotiating table to get this dispute resolved.”

The College has used agency staff to try to cope with the disruption. A spokesperson for the College said: “The impact of the new contract on Unison members is minimal. All sites will remain open and the College will continue to ensure minimal disruption occurs to its learners. All exams and assessments will take place as planned. “

“We do not have a problem with turnover, the increase in the last few years has been as a direct result of managing the largest deficit in London and addressing some historical quality issues. We also have 22% of the workforce that are aged 55 or over which will naturally result in more people choosing to leave at a time when they may have ordinarily retired.”

For more information on the strike see here.


  1. Striking does absolutely nothing for any cause. In actuality striking causes more problems.

    why do unions not use their influence through more effective means of research, thought leadership, lobbying and in extreme cases ‘court action’.

    surely more would be achieved.

    I’m not saying don’t fight, I’m saying fight the right fight. Fight smarter.

  2. I am trying to think of an occasion when striking did anything other than bring down outright opprobrium on the strikers themselves—and I cannot.

  3. The strike is about the quality of education and support teachers are able to provide. The conditions teachers teach in are the conditions learners learn in. Teachers are already on their knees from excessive workload and pressure to meet targets. I have seen a recently appointed teacher in tears every day because she couldn’t cope with the workload — only two weeks into the job. Any increase in weekly teaching hours means less time to prepare decent lessons and less time to provide individual students with the support they need. The quality of the education we provide can only suffer as a result.

    Year after year of budget cuts have pared our support services to the bone so that teachers have had to take on all the admin, much of the welfare support, careers etc. We have also lost the time we used to get for tutoring each group. Students are experiencing more hardship than ever before and need increased help from tutors. There is a growing emphasis on meeting targets which brings with it extra admin. Added to that there is a management obsession with meetings which again eat into preparation time. Planning and preparing materials for an interesting lesson which is tailored to the particular group of students and updated so that it is current takes at least 1 hour for each lesson taught but we simply don’t get this time. This is why many fulltime FE teachers are putting in 50 hours a week or more and many others have to reduce their days because they simply can’t cope with the workload. Holidays are used for writing and updating schemes if work and catching up with marking. Stress levels amongst staff are very high and there is a lot of stress related sickness. Morale in the sector is rock bottom and staff turnover is also high at 25% a year. Teachers are already at the end of their tether as knowing you could do better for your students if you only had more time produces stress in itself. The announcement of new contracts which would further increase workload when they are rolled out to all staff was the final straw. Teachers at Lambeth College feel they cannot work harder than they are doing already. They also recognise that the quality of the teaching and support for learners will be seriously compromised by further increases in workload. Managers have made it clear that existing staff will be transferred onto the new contract in a year or two and sooner if they want to change their hours or job role. The final insult is that the extra hours proposed constitute a substantial pay cut after teachers have had no pay rise for 4 years. Walking out was our last resort and a desperate attempt to preserve the quality of provision. No one is expecting to return to the good old days and we have been proposing more flexible working for a long time, but teachers and students deserve better than what is being imposed here.

  4. Can you be in the Union and be going into work (crossing a picket line) and campaigning and working towards an end to this situation?

      • my plan is to go back to work and see if the change can be made from within, BUT how long should one try for? if change dose not come i can just go for the Job in secondary with better term and conditions!
        this is not my community, just my job.

      • I truly hope that if you do decide to go back, with the good intent you have, The senior mgt recognise this and acknowledge the potential power in working together and positive change can and will happen.

      • Wait as long as only you are willing to. Not what others from either side expect of you.

      • this is my choose to return and intent to work to get a god outcome for all, i also hope that the SMT will recognise this and acknowledge the potential power in working together, i can but hold hope, i will blog the outcome…

  5. Well stated Mr Swishell. I would like to add that i too would be interested to know whether what the college is stating as laid out in Mr. Swishell earlier posts is true or not.

    i also hereby confirm that i am also not in. Cahoot (always wondered what that word meant…i kind of thought it was name if credit card brand)…. But all the same I am not in cahoot with college.

    i am as stated a concerned parent and local resident.

    i submit myself for a polygraph if needed

  6. For the record I called the College and they happily provided me with a briefing document. I also received a letter from college as a parent.

    this is where i have got my information. If you read my posts clearly, i had ? at end of each point. In other words if there was anything to refute or prove these claims to be wrong, please provide it.

  7. Absolutely typical and oh so predictable, to suggest scepticism on any posts that disagree with you ‘the strikers’. Therefore apparently I must be in some way or other in cahoots with the management.

    really? You talk about freedom and rights. Is that as long as it suits you and your cause?

    you are having a laugh.

    please get back to work, cos you so can’t stand the heat out here.

    nice to see how you are trying to deflect open debate.

    honestly, i genuinely hope when all this is over and you finally get off your high horses, you will realise agreeing to disagree is far better than throwing baseless accusations against those who believe you need to stop striking and get back to what you are good at…..I’ll leave it to you to decide what that may be.

    to all genuine posters… In favour of or not of strike… Keep posting, don’t descend into anything other than healthy open debate. Leave the accusations to those who just can’t handle it.

  8. I work at the college and am participating in strike action. I have seen and read at first hand the daily barrage of propaganda and emails coming out of the college, written by management, and I’m afraid some of the posts on here, against the strike, read exactly the same way and I am very sceptical that they are genuine posts.

    Management are asking students to write glowing reports of how little disruption there is inside the college, when in fact we know that many students are upset that their classes have been cancelled. A fact management seem happy to ignore. They should be responding to the unhappiness of students who want their teachers back in college by talking to the unions and ending the dispute.

  9. Would you turn down a job because you felt the salary was disproportionately high? How much does the union head honcho earn?

    did current leadership manage the finances to deficit?

    have student successes increased significantly?

    is the deficit being managed down?

    what have Ofsted said compared to previous inspections?

    have college applications significantly increased when compared to previous years?

    most important question is surely having played a crucial role in improvements why are you hell-bent on destroying it again?

    take the real fight nationally, against ghastly zero contracts, high taxes with ever decreasing funding and mist importantly fight against the real monster – private sector intrusion.

    beilieve me the private sector sharks are circling and waiting for the college to close… Then you will see nothing left but apartments in highly desirable sites and students on fee based courses and training.

    • As I’ve said in a reply below, taking this fight nationally is something I would personally love to do, but we are so splintered as a nation it’s doubtful we’d make any real change.

      The private sector aren’t just circling. There are deals being made as we type. They intend to demolish the Brixton centre for housing… That is a topic for another day.

      We aren’t trying to destroy anything. We are trying to block changes that will have a detrimental effect on our learners. If you get the chance, come and talk to us, from what you wrote about private sector intrusion I believe we are saying the same thing.

      • You know what I was honestly going to do that… Until I got accused of being of suspicious character.

        i genuinely now feel like what is the point, i thought we could disagree with each other be honest and still meet without fear of backlash or accusations.

        obviously I was so very wrong

  10. Why are you assuming that those who are striking are not struggling? Of course there are 100s who would willingly take our place – it is an employer’s market and times are hard; that is the hell of the proverbial rat race. Try to have some breadth of vision. We are fighting for better conditions. I am struggling. I am on a casual contract so don’t have the benefit of paid holidays and aspire to one day have a permanent contract but I can see how stretched these teachers are and how hard they work. I have seen at first hand how much effort is put in and how many hours are unofficially worked . I personally put in at least double the hours for which I am paid. This, as with all, is done out of goodwill but barely sustainable. If conditions are worsened, quality will inevitably follow suit.

    The ‘debt’ is about money management. Why is the onus put upon the teachers when senior management salaries are so disproportionately high?

  11. Picket lines in Brixton and Clapham remained strong this week…

    That sounds familiar.

    Oh Zoe! This article is more or less a complete lift from the Workers Liberty site’s coverage of the strike. If you are going to descend to churnalism, couldn’t you pick a better source than the AWL – by some measure the nastiest of the loopy cult groups on the Left.

  12. To the concerned parents with no name. If you say it own it.
    Condescending and unacceptable. “Me thinks thou doth protest too much”. Have I hit a nerve? The truth tends to do that. Presumable YOU were educated by some of these feckless inconsiderate teachers, that explains things. Based on your argument they failed you. Let me make it quite clear, I am not a spokesman for the teaching profession, just an individual who is tired of hearing poorly informed characters berate teachers. You have not explained what you would do if you found yourself in a dispute situation at work which you could not resolve? A free society gives every citizen the right to withdraw his or her labour. Take away that right and what recourse does that citizen have? Sit back and take it without a fight for their rights, is this your kind of world. Teachers are fighting to help protect future recruitment so that the best staff can be attracted, (to teach your little offspring, and you.) They are fighting to ensure that they have time to: prepare, research, produce assignments, deliver classes, assess work, tutor students, test learning, address deficits, mark work, prepare for moderation, invigilate, enrol, etc.etc. All this and much more. The ill informed listen to nonsense about teachers being very well paid, THIS IS RUBBISH. Plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, earn far more on average, call a plumber out and see. If you really want to know who earns the money check the salary of a college principal £150, 000 and compare that to a lecturer. With due respect, you and many other interesting people are entitled to your views and I would fight to defend your right to hold them and defend them, even if it INCONVENIENCED ME. However, you are wrong. The vast majority of teachers/lecturers are hard working, dedicated caring people who are still working well into the night preparing and marking when you are asleep. They do not enjoy striking, as it does affect education. However, what do you do when those in power have an agenda to save money by grinding you and future staff into the ground, and refuse to compromise. I say again empathy, “Don’t judge me till you walk a mile in my shoes or live a day in my life.”

    • I am happy to provide my name. I think Mr Howard, is the one on the ‘who doth protest too much’ and the nerves that are hit are yours.

      as for those who choose not to leave their name, I think, maybe its becasue they do not want any potential fallout to be targeted towards their children, who, study at the College.

      As you so clealry harp on about democracy and protecting rights. It is my right to wholeheardtly agree with the parents and disagree with you.

      for the record, I have absolutely nothing against teachers or the profession. I do however, take exception to the fact that strike action is dispropprtionate to the argument, and as a result the students suffer.

      just stop striking and start talking and more importantly get back to what is the real priority …assisting students in succesfully finishing their year.

      • Try talking to staff about their working conditions (Brixton centre). They can tell you about lack of resources, basic stationery and faulty equipment. The principal claims the college is in financial trouble and yet he gives himself a 13% pay rise (becoming probably the highest earning college principal in London), plus most senior management get around 100k pa. Also the issue with redundancies came out only after UCU announced the strike making the decision strictly political, because the college is to get rid over 20 people and the waiting line for some courses is really long. So I guess the contracts are the last straw. I agree that the stike is damaging to students, but the principal’s decisions will ruin the college and damage students even more in the long-term.

      • please show article/evidence, not from a source affiliated to any side. I like all would like to see if this is true

      • It’s not really something you find in newspapers or on news. Go to a picket line, talk to the staff, ask them about their working conditions. It’s as reliable as you can get.

      • That’s the problem though, the management are refusing to speak to us. Please believe me the last thing I want is to be out on strike when I should be getting my students ready for their exams.

  13. I am a teacher from the college and want to here from the local community any good reasons why i should not continue to strike?

    • Hello

      i think your striking will/is seriously damaging the colleges reputation and will have a negative impact on the students. Also, if you are not affected by the new contract and more importantly if those who are on the new contract and are not striking or complaining…. Then what or why are you doing?

      i understand that you may be fed up of the funding cuts etc… But your striking will only add to the problem, it certainly will not solve anything.

      finally, please appreciate that many away from education work just as hard as you do. The only difference is that we are not afforded the leave you have, even under the new deal.

      please don’t risk your job and the jobs of others by fighting the wrong people.

      help to transform the college into the best in London.

      that way you’ll have the respect and. Admiration of all and the chance of a better package in the long term.

      • In your job do you work with others doing the same role but for different pay? this is what we are being asked to do. is equality the wrong thing to be fighting for?

        funding cuts are a continued pain and a bigger political issues to be challenged an a national scale too.

      • if those on the new terms are not complaining or striking, then again, I stress why are you doing this.

        I would also state that if the new terms are bad, then the obvious measure would be that nobody will apply for those posts,.

        different contracts and terms of employment exist accross all sectors. Thats just how it is

      • from your statement “thats just how it is” mean that the values of fairness and equal pay and conditions for the same job no longer relevant in todays society
        i will not be going for any jobs or changing my working hours with this college as this would mean going onto the new contract.
        there are only a few people the new on contract and they are not in the union so have little opportunity to complain.
        am i and other on stick out of touch? standing together with other (in a union) for the values of equality fairness,. is society new all about self?

      • i think it is important to note that times have changed, as has employment legislation, which does mean employees have far better protection than ever before.

        in terms of those on new contracts not being able to complain as they are not a union…. i think yu will find that they would/could protest by quite simply not taking the job and seeking a role elsewhwere.

        as for ‘thats just the way it is’ i refer to the fact that times have and are changing, like it or not.

        . education is changing. the uncomrfitable reality is – in my opinion – strking does very little if anything to affect psotive change. i would have thought working tiogether and having a shared voice would fair better.

        students first….puts community first…how does the college and you differ on that belief?

        the real enemy are those who have put you both in this predicament…. central government…lobby them togther and lobby them hard.

      • Lobbying the government and making an overall change would be the best case scenario. However as you can see even in this post, there is an sir of “I’m alright Jack” so it wouldn’t have the impact needed to create real change.
        The college has now admitted that they intend for everyone to eventually be on those contracts.

        Times have changed, of that there is no doubt. Surely though it doesn’t have to be to the detriment of the staff? There are other ways to solve the issues they say these contracts will fix, but the College refuses to have a discussion. How else are we supposed to get them to listen to us?

  14. Walk past The Alexander on the high street in clapham at 5pm every evening and you will see these strikers enjoying Themselves. Is this what our hard earned taxes are paying for and their union subs ?? Thirsty work doing nothing, they can’t be that hard up !!!

    • I wrote out a very long message in reply to you, however I’ve realised that there is simply no point.

  15. For the record, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the majority of teachers who ate NOT striking.

    Mr Anthony you really have done yourself and your striking colleagues a great disservice with your post.

  16. To Zoe and other interesting people.
    The levels of selfishness people are capable of never fails to amaze me. From your perspective it is a case of, ” I and others need an education, you are a teacher so teach me”. It does not matter what conditions you have to endure, it does not matter that you may be being exploited by an employer, it does not matter that you may be trying to help protect future teachers. “You do your job and don’t inconvenience me.” However, if I was in a similar situation where I felt aggrieved, it would be a different matter. I would complain to friends and family, get depressed, go on strike, leave my job. RING A BELL. Teachers are human beings. They have the same feelings as other members of society, but they are easy prey. We enjoy our nights, have babies, then give them to “teachers” to teach, and take care of. Whilst we go off and earn our wage, a wage which is very often greater than that which the teacher earns. Should the teacher ever have the audacity to protest/strike about any aspect of their lot, we accuse them of INCONVENIENCING US. (Fantastic). When is the last time you took the time to investigate the issues that the Lambeth Lecturers are striking for? Do you understand the issues? Your lecturers support you and your learning, why are you not supporting them? I regret that you have not yet reached an intellectual level that allows you to empathise. Who knows, maybe a lecturer will explain the meaning of the word to you when the strike is over.

    • Mr Anthony

      your comments are rude, condescending and unacceptable.

      yes, i have taken the time to read and understand what the reasons. I happen to disagree.

      please stop placing yourself on a pedestal.

      and please don’t try and state that parents such as myself ‘dump’ our children on the likes of you so we can go earn a wage.

      you are the one who is quite clearly lacking in the ability to intellectualise and have absolutely no empathy.

      as for knowing what is going on at Lambeth college… Are you affected by the new contract’s? Are there any strikers who are actually working under the new terms??

      i think we all know the answer to both questions.

  17. Hi Zoe
    I’m a little surprised that no one has seemed to mention the fact that well paid employed academics are texting learners (who presumably are trying to further their own career opportunities by attending college) are being texted by those on strike asking them not to go to college to improve their prospects. It may just be me but that seems highly immoral??? The picture it gives of the staff on strike is that they are more interested in disadvantaging learners further??? I would hate to think that any member of the academic community would do this but clearly they are. As a parent and a learner I would be spitting feathers if my lecturer decided to play with my future just to make a point about new contracts. Is it me (again) or does this not even effect them if they are current and not new staff?? The staff on strike and any others thinking of joining the strike should be ashamed of themselves.

    • Hi Concerned Community,

      I’m sure it’s not just you. On the face of it, encouraging students not to attend college may look immoral, but hopefully this explanation will give everyone a better understanding of our position.

      The management simply won’t engage in any type of conversation with the us, and the only way for this to get resolved quickly is for the management to see the impact this is having on their funding, please note, I say funding and not students. If they truly cared about the students they would not be planning to rebuild the Brixton Centre without a library, as well as demolishing the kitchen that provides work and training while giving the principal 2 pay rises.

      No students = no funding = a conversation to hopefully put an end to this.

      We have tried so many ways to show them that these new contracts are unnecessary, but they refuse to look at any other option but their way.
      The company line was that it’s only new contracts, but they have finally admitted now that it will be rolled out to everyone next year.
      Before I started working, I too thought that it was quite cushy to have the summer holidays off. Oh how wrong I was! You never stop, and I’m not complaining because there is no better feeling in the world than finding out your ex student has a job that they would never have got before you taught them. All my colleagues and I are asking for is for management to take that contract off the table, sit with us, and find a way out of this together.

      • Yes but obviously they like you aren’t budging… So time to choose who makes the first move in the right direction.

        its about really being big enough to do whatever it takes to get talking and surely that way some sense of compromise would follow.

        or maybe I’m just wrong and fighting until there is nothing left in terms of college and students to fight over.

  18. I totally agree with you ‘concerned parent’. I am confident that if you surveyed all parents and local residents, they would also agree. My daughter and nephew both go to the college and they have also experienced no problems with classes whatsoever

  19. My son has been attending as normal and has had no issues whatsoever. As a working parent, I think it is out of order that you would strike at such an important part of the year.

    From what I am told, the college has big debts and needs to do what they are doing. correct me if I am wrong, but you are striking over an extra hour a week with students and less holiday from 50 to 40-odd days.

    please take a reality check and see the real world. you should all be grateful you have a job. I know so many that are struggling and here you are striking.

    honestly, you should all go back to work or leave, I bet there are 100’s who would willingly take your place albeit 40 days and an extra hour a week.

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