Streatham Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy joined striking Lambeth college staff on a picket line at the college’s Clapham campus yesterday (11 October) as they took part in a series of nationwide strikes for a fair pay rise, action on unmanageable workloads and an agreement on professional respect.
On Monday and Tuesday, staff at the college joined 4,000 colleagues at 31 further education institutions across England in strike action which began in September.
Further walkouts are planned at Lambeth college and across the country next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Pay in further education has lagged behind inflation by 35% since 2009. With retail price index inflation now running at 12.3%, the college chiefs made a pay recommendation of just 2.5%.
Members of UCU are also demanding action on workloads and an agreement on professional respect, with their union producing a Charter for Respect in Higher Education.
Earlier this year they voted in favour of strike action – with an 89.9% yes vote on a 57.8% turnout.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy said: “College staff aren’t just standing up for themselves. They’re standing up for the students they teach. After 12 years of attacks on their professionalism, pay, and status, a real pay rise is the least these key workers deserve.
“It’s also vital for further education employers to address the workplace struggles staff are facing: from ever-increasing workloads to classroom surveillance, stifling bureaucracy and unrealistic deadlines.
“A toxic working environment is a toxic learning environment.
“So much of this comes down to funding, with spending cuts of £710 million to 16-19 education since 2010. This has seen falling staff levels, lower pay, and fewer opportunities for students.
“Long-term government investment in further education is what is now needed; not tax giveaways to corporations and the rich, which will suck money out of education budgets.”