Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Strikes still on at five colleges as progress is made in some disputes

Strikes still on at five colleges as progress is made in some disputes

19 March 2019 | last updated: 21 March 2019
UCU members at West Thames College, South Bank College, Croydon College, Bradford College and Harlow College will be on strike on Wednesday 20 March in a row over pay.
Members at West Thames College walked out for three days on Monday 18 March and they will be joined by colleagues at the four other colleges as they walk out from Wednesday 20 March until Friday 22 March.
The union said those colleges only had themselves to blame for the latest wave of disruption as a number of other colleges either reached agreement with the union to end the dispute or had made enough progress to allow for the strikes to be suspended*.
The strikes are part of a third wave of action after UCU members at six colleges took action in November and staff at 12 colleges walked out at the end of January. The dispute centres on the failure of college bosses to make a decent pay offer to staff or address key issues such as excessive workloads.
The pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000 as staff have seen the value of their pay decline by 25% over the last decade. UCU said members were fed up with being told that nothing was possible unless the government came to the rescue. The union said it was simply not true that colleges could not work with it on pay, workloads or job security.
UCU head of further education Andrew Harden said: 'Strike action is always a last resort and we are pleased that some colleges have worked with us to prioritise their staff and avoid disruption for students. We have always said colleges who engage with us on the pay and conditions of their staff will get a positive hearing and we are extremely frustrated that some chose not to do this.
'Bradford's refusal to even hold talks until next month sends a terrible message to staff and students about where the college's priorities lie. Where we have suspended action, colleges need to continue to work with us or we will have no option but to call further action.'

Strikes have been suspended to allow for further negotiations and UCU has made it clear that if members are dissatisfied with how they progress the action will be resumed. The union was content with how talks went this week with the college putting forward proposals to overhaul pay scales.
Strikes have been suspended to allow for further talks. UCU was satisfied with commitments from the college on dealing with fractionalisation, establishing maximum teaching hours and the promise of further discussions on pay. Those statements of intent need to be matched by actions in further negotiations if we are to avoid further disruption.
Strike suspended pending governors' meeting on 26 March at which the union hopes an improved offer will be authorised. If the offer that comes back after the governors' meeting is unsatisfactory, the three days of strikes will go ahead in early April, likely to be Monday 8, Tuesday 9 and Wednesday 10 April. There are also live ballots at Coventry College and Warwickshire College Group in the West Midlands, so they may look to coordinate action.
Dispute has been settled as members voted to accept a deal that includes the end of graded lesson observations and a 2% pay rise over nine months (1% in April 2019 and another 1% in January 2020). Lower paid members will receive a 5% increase in April 2019.

London - YouthStrike4Climate - Strike/3 12 April - 11am

London - YouthStrike4Climate - Strike/3 12 April - 11am

Join us in Parliament Square for Strike/3 on 12 April. Let's make this massive!

On 15 February over 15,000 of us ditched the classroom for the first
#YouthStrike4Climate, and on 15 March an incredible 50,000 turned out in what's thought to be the largest ever youth-led climate justice movement the UK has ever seen! We joined over 1.5 million people across the world, and we will rise up once again.

We won't see the change we need to see to secure our future unless we continue to demonstrate, continue to disrupt the status quo, and continue putting pressure on those in government and positions of power.

On 12 April students and young people need to demonstrate across the UK in even larger numbers. Over 50,000 across the UK in around 150 towns and cities...Let's go even bigger this time!

When: 12 April - 11am
Where: Parliament Square, Westminster

Friday, 5 April 2019

BEIS Support Staff strikes: 8 – 10 April 2019

BEIS Support Staff strikes: 8 – 10 April 2019

BEIS stands for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We are a Whitehall Department and our workers are outsourced to contractors and on poverty wages. BEIS is the Department responsible for workers rights and the minimum wage - and allegedly climate change (not that you'd know it) - so it's really disgraceful that our Secretary of State (Greg Clark) refuses to pay his workers a liveable wage. 

So here are all the details about the strikes and their location (they will be outside BEIS HQ - 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET). I also attach a document I put together for people that explains the different ways activists can show solidarity and a template letter people could use to write to their MPs.

It would be amazing to have Green Party activists come and show support on the picket lines on Monday or Wednesday.

In solidarity,
Branch Secretary for the BEIS London and South PCS Union

BEIS Support Staff strikes: 8 – 10 April 2019
How you can show solidarity
1.    Come and visit our picket lines:
  1. Monday 8 April07:00am – 10:00am, Aramark (catering) staff walk out in strike for the start of a 72 hour stoppage.
·         Picket lines start outside BEIS, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET (nearest tube lines: Victoria, Westminster or St James’s Park)  – The aim is to catch civil servants as they begin work (the theme will be “Let them Eat Cake, huh, Greg”). Speeches from visitors and strikers will start around 08:15am and there will be music, dancing and plenty of noise.

  1. Wednesday 10 April, picket lines between 12:00 – 14:00 with a “Caribbean cookout” theme. We’re planning on having music, speeches and fun. But we will also be serving yummy Caribbean food for free (donations welcomed) to highlight how our catering staff are treated. We’ll also be joined by the General Secretary of PCS Union, Mark Serwotka.

  1. The strikes will then end at 06:59am on Thursday 11 April (shifts start at 07:00am).

2.    Donate to the strike fund:

Donations are welcomed and should be made into the following Crowdfunder: https://uk.gofundme.com/beis-pcs-hardship-fund

3.    Boycott the canteen and coffeeshops
·         We are asking everyone to not use or buy anything from the canteen or coffeeshops on strike days. This is to demonstrate solidarty and ensure that disruption is caused to BEIS and Aramark, given they refuse to engage with the reasonable demands of our members.

4.    Take a solidarity pic:

Be creative and send us a solidarity picture showing your support. Ideally these would be sent on social media and use the following hashtags and tags:

·         Or email your pictures to: beislsbranch@gmail.com
·         Or post them on our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/beislspcsunion/
·         Or in the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/427120858054017/

5.    Share, Retweet and like our page and event to publicise the strikes:

·         Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/beislspcsunion/
·         Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/427120858054017/
·         Twitter: https://twitter.com/beis_pcs_ls?lang=en

6.    Write to your MP and ask them to support the strikers demands:

·         Here is a suggested template letter:
·         And find your MP by typing in your postcode to: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/

 Dear XXX,


First, just to introduce myself, my name is XXX and I am a constituent of yours, PCS Union member and civil servant working in the Department XXX

I wanted to raise to your attention an industrial dispute at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). You may be aware but back in 2014 (when BEIS where the former Department of Energy and Climate Change and based in 3 Whitehall Place - now housing the Department for International Trade) trade unionist fought and won the London Living Wage (LLW) (as set by the Living Wage Foundation) for all their support staff. When the machinery of Government changes took place, the Trade Unions discussed with the Permanent Secretary, Alex Chisholm, about ensuring that before staff moved into BIS's offices on 1 Victoria Street that all support staff there were also paid the LLW and we have proper discussions about their terms and conditions as a whole and future in-housing. At the time he seemed receptive.

The Department then went away, and they did confirm that the LLW was both affordable and doable (i.e. Cabinet Office wouldn't stop them). But since then the Union has only had delays and intransigence. Support staff at BEIS are completely fed and up, demoralised and struggling to feed their families. For example, their security colleagues must work a minimum of 60 hours a week to make ends meet, that's while be on the front line of keeping a major Whitehall Department safe.

The support staff, members of PCS Union at BEIS, have now been forced to undertake industrial action due to the Department, and the Secretary of State, Greg Clark’s, indifference. The Union has consistently demonstrated that it is cheaper to bring these workers back in-house, on proper wages and terms and conditions, and it also would ensure BEIS was truly a diverse, inclusive and appreciative Department of all its staff’s contributions – whether you clean the desks or are a XXXX like me.

Civil servants and staff feel strongly about this and I am writing to you to ask you to support our campaign and lend your voice in calling for BEIS to end this injustice. BEIS should be setting an example to businesses and society, not woefully lagging, and I hope you’ll agree the current situation is shameful.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

GPTU sends its support to the Ruskin College UCU branch

Management attack on our union branch at Ruskin College and victimisation of our branch officer, Lee Humber - please RT and share widely!!

GPTU sends support to Ruskin College UCU and calls for the reinstatement of Dr Lee Humber.