why the phony war?

6 06 2012

London based college worker Siobhan Breathnach writes about the top down nature of the UK public sector pensions dispute

We got notice of the 10th of May strike on a Friday afternoon ten days before, in the middle of an emergency meeting about redundancies. The first response was “They have got to be fucking kidding.” There was a general expression of dismay and disbelief. So what is the problem? Why weren’t we pleased about being called out? Read the rest of this entry »





taking control of our struggle

12 01 2012

A college worker recently on strike describes how the  mood in her workplace has developed throughout the pensions dispute, in tandem with a local fight over redundancy and restructuring

In my workplace both the admin staff and the teaching staff were out on strike together for the first time in years, which made the strike a very different experience. Normally, although we talk to each other every day in the course of work, we don’t organise together or support each other much in the face of redundancy, restructuring, disciplinaries etc. The teaching staff are better organised than the admin staff and usually have better working conditions, and haven’t tended to pay much attention to the problems faced by the other workers.

Unions struck on the same day, but they aren’t necessarily well linked up with each other, still less the non-unionised majority

In the buildup to the strike we had some joint meetings, both informal canteen meetings and one formal union meeting, and we did some activities together, such as leafleting. It bought it home how separated we are in the two unions, UCU and Unison, and how unnecessary it is – I had never even met most of the Unison people, and yet we work in the same building. This is not only because of the union bureaucracies. We could easily talk informally to each other but we don’t, due to inertia and inward looking attitudes. Read the rest of this entry »





hackney community college needs a community fightback

22 07 2010

A report on the recent cuts by an hourly-paid ESOL teacher

Cuts and Compulsory Redundancies

Earlier this year 68 members of staff at Hackney Community College were issued with notification of possible redundancy. After two successful, solid strike days, negotiation and many voluntary redundancies there are now only a handful of people facing compulsory redundancy. Read the rest of this entry »





ESOL students and staff defend childcare

19 04 2010

Nursery and crèche provision is one of the first things to go when cuts are made at colleges and universities, as the recent examples of the University of Sussex, London Metropolitan University and Manchester College show. Here a teacher of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) at Tower Hamlets College shows how the decision to close the crèche at the outreach centre where she works was successfully overturned following her and her students’ campaign. Note: Entry 1 (E1) and Entry 2 (E2) refer to levels of classes for beginner ESOL learners.

by Sally Haywill

What do you do when, without warning, you are told ‘Yes, your class now has a new centre to work from, but the students who need childcare must contact the student advisers to arrange a childminder’? You haven’t seen the centre yet, nor spoken to any of your students since your last centre was closed to you on Health and Safety grounds. You’re just back from holiday, and looking forward to seeing everyone. Still in holiday mode, at first I didn’t really take in the implications of this. I hadn’t been consulted, there was no discussion. It all felt a bit unreal. Read the rest of this entry »





issue 8 of the commune

9 10 2009

The October issue of our monthly paper The Commune is now available. Click the image below to see the PDF, or see articles as they are posted online in the list below.

To purchase a printed copy for £1 + 50p postage, use the ‘donate’ feature here. You can also subscribe (£12 a year UK/£16 EU/£20 international) or order 5 copies a month to sell (£4) online here. If you want to pay by cheque, contact uncaptiveminds@gmail.com.

issue8cover
we’re not ‘all in it together’ – editorial of The Commune

update on the activities of our network

tuc congress: an opportunity wasted? – by Gregor Gall

fragile livelihoods at cowley mini factory – by  Brian Rylance

what is the london postal strike really about? – interview of CWU reps by Sheila Cohen

gordon brown’s workhouses for single mothers – by Zoe Smith

‘new’ tactics versus rubbish bosses – by Adam Ford

lessons of the tower hamlets esol strike – interview with two members of teaching staff

how we fought education cuts in tamworth – by Rob Marsden

on the necessity of pluralist communism – by Nathan Coombs

a letter from tegucigalpa: resisting the honduran coup – by a member of Socialismo o Barbarie

political report from the land of the haggis-eating surrender monkeys – by Allan Armstrong

electoral parties: let’s not put old wine in new bottles – by David Broder

a beginners’ guide to cuts – by Robert Kirby

platform of our communist network





lessons of the tower hamlets esol strike

8 10 2009

Two workers who took part in the recent strike over cuts to teaching roles and student places in English for Speakers of Other Languages and other subjects spoke to The Commune about the lessons of the dispute.

esolpicket

Tell us about what unions workers are in, their organising capacity, and of their previous relationship with management

All teachers are in the University and College Union. Support staff/admin staff are mainly in Unison or no union. UCU has always been strong in the college and in the two years before the strike successfully campaigned to make 60 hourly paid teachers into permanent employees with higher pay and more rights. UCU also led an unofficial walkout earlier in the year to support our longstanding caretaker who was sacked. Read the rest of this entry »





tower hamlets college: strike solid!

18 09 2009

by Joe Thorne

On Wednesday, at the end of the third week of the strike, a mass meeting of Tower Hamlets College UCU members voted overwhelmingly to continue the strike: 156 for continuing action, 14 abstentions, no votes against.

The struggle suffered a setback on Monday when it emerged that the ballot for strike action of UNISON members (i.e. of admin workers at the College) failed 13 to 12.  Apparently, however, a mass meeting of UNISON members last week voted 60 strong for strike action, with 3 abstentions.  Some UNISON members did not receive a ballot paper (often the case in strikes – members not receiving ballots need to be chased up, and replacements must be arranged).  But, in part, the result is also a reflection of an the atomising procedure that is the secret ballot: which is established in law specifically because it makes it harder to organise collective action.

However, the strike remains strong.  Picket lines are always welcoming, receptive, and worth a visit.  (Locations and other ideas for how you can help on our previous report.)  The strike fund stands at an impressive £25,000, though with 250 striker in their fourth week without work to support, it does need to be augmented.  The strike has a number of positive features which the whole movement can learn from: Read the rest of this entry »





tower hamlets college: the struggle continues!

9 09 2009

Rally this Saturday: 2pm – 4pm Altab Ali Park, near Aldgate East Station, just south of Brick Lane.

Teachers at Tower Hamlets college are now in their third week of indefinite strike action against cuts to jobs and courses.  Indefinite strike action (rare in the UK), the level of commitment and creativity shown by the strikers, and the wider social objectives of the struggle make it a crucial battle for us to support.

tower_hamlets_270809

Visitors are welcome at picket lines outside the college’s three sites, from 7.30am each morning (though showing up at any time will be appreciated, and a list of other ways to help appears at the bottom):

Read the rest of this entry »





students and staff fight to save esol teaching in tower hamlets

15 06 2009

By Alice Robson

Friday 12 June saw hundreds of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students, staff and supporters march in East London in protest at major cuts to ESOL announced at Tower Hamlets College.

TH college ESOL protest 2 Read the rest of this entry »





report: occupation at london metropolitan university

13 05 2009

by David Broder

At 4pm on the afternoon of Monday 11th May around thirty students began an occupation of the sixth floor canteen at the London Met building on Commercial Road in protest at sweeping cuts. Management plan to get rid of 550 posts – some 800 members of staff, one quarter of the indebted university – which will mean severe cutbacks in several subjects, such as the arts and languages.

P12-05-09_18[1].23

UCU members had staged strike action last Thursday (7th May) and although taken by surprise by the student action, several lecturers have joined the occupation. As yet management have refused to talk to the occupiers, but there seems to be strong solidarity between students, lecturers and other staff organised by UNISON, with course cuts and reduced student services the obvious outcome of attacks on the university workforce.

The nursery, key to allowing students with kids to attend London Met, as well as all but two of the libraries are also due to be slashed in order to make up for a purported £15 million budget deficit. Read the rest of this entry »








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