Union members of Lambeth College began a 48 hour walkout today in their continuing dispute over staff contract changes.
The first strike of 2015 follows six days of action in December and five weeks in June and July.
Action began today at 7am at the college’s Brixton, Clapham and Vauxhall sites and has been organised by the University and College Union.
The dispute began over the introduction of a new contract for new staff, which includes less holiday and more working hours. UCU wants the new contract removed and a fresh one drawn up.
The union says plans for another three days of staff action next week from Tuesday to Thursday will go ahead and has repeated that if an agreement is not reached union members will walk out indefinitely from January 19.
UCU regional official, Una O’Brien, said: “We remain keen to resolve this dispute without further disruption. However, the college needs to come back to the table and make a real effort to negotiate properly with us. The clock is ticking towards indefinite strike action.”
The union now plans to provide “teach-ins” for students who could be missing out on learning because of the strike. Teachers have drawn up a timetable for group lessons which will take place in local venues outside of the college, starting next week.
The college has said that it will not impose the new contracts on staff employed before April 2014, but the UCU says it is opposed to the employment structure the contracts have produced.
Lambeth College principal Mark Silverman said: “We are very disappointed that a small number of staff remain resistant to changes that we introduced eight months ago following consultation with staff and representatives. Like colleges across the country, we must adapt to ensure that we remain fit-for-purpose and in a strong position to serve our learners, communities, and local employers.
The majority of our staff are investing their time and energy into supporting our learners and I’m very proud of the way they are working together to ensure that lessons continue. That’s been the case today, and as of this morning we have had classes going ahead for all learners.”