There were strikes at eight further education colleges last week (Pic: Jenny Sutton)

Further education colleges in England fight over pay

Workers at eight colleges in England walked out last week for three days in a battle over pay. The UCU union called off action at three other colleges after receiving last-minute pay offers.

At City and Islington college in north London UCU rep Sean Vernell hailed a “fantastic show of unity and determination” on the picket line. He said the action was needed because, “Ministers don’t give a toss about places like this. They don’t send their kids here.”

Workers at City and Islington also took part in the day of action for Palestine on the Wednesday strike day. At Hugh Baird college in in Liverpool and Heart of Yorkshire Education Trust workers voted to accept deals that included a pay offer of 6.5 percent and national bargaining commitments.

Strikes at Bath College were suspended while workers voted on a 6.5 percent offer.

Left candidate in UCU election

Left candidate Saira Weiner is confirmed as a candidate for UCU general secretary after winning enough nominations. She will face incumbent Jo Grady, Vicky Blake and Ewan McGaughey.

For updates, go to saira4gs.wordpress.com and twitter.com/UcuLeft

Scottish further education strike re-ballot

College lecturers in the EIS-Fela union across Scotland began their pay strike re-ballot this week. Their last pay rise was in September 2021, and the present derisory offer is linked to job cuts.

The new ballot comes after months of turmoil in the sector with the two biggest colleges, Edinburgh and City of Glasgow, locked in prolonged strikes against compulsory redundancies.

The fight is far from over, partly because it is driven by Scottish government underfunding. City of Glasgow lecturers are back into intensive strike action.

There is everything to fight for in Scottish Further education. The government is considering privatisation, so the very nature of working class tertiary education is at stake. Lecturers need to vote for resistance and then fight.

Donny Gluckstein

Dark Friday for Amazon

Black Friday this week will see the largest day of industrial disruption in Amazon’s 30-year history, with strikes across the globe including in Germany, Italy and the United States.

In Britain more than 1,000 workers at the retail giant’s Coventry warehouse will walk out in the dispute over low pay—the 28th day of action in the dispute. Coventry staff want a minimum of £15 an hour. The minimum rate is now £11.80.

Struggle builds unions. The GMB union recently announced that it has 1,000 members at the BHX4 Coventry warehouse. That’s five times the number it had before the first official strike, in January this year.

It’s welcome that the GMB is holding a strike ballot at Amazon’s new £500 million flagship Birmingham fulfilment centre in Sutton Coldfield. But the action must spread wider to beat Amazon bosses.

Pay up NHS Tayside

NHS workers in Tayside, in the east of Scotland, struck for three days last week in a fight against underpayment. The around 60 Unite union members are demanding that NHS Tayside implement national conditions for craft workers.

They had already scheduled on-going strikes every Thursday and Friday. But last week they escalated by striking on Wednesday too. The workers also withdrew weekend cover, meaning they didn’t return to work until Monday.

Unite has requested the dispute is referred to the Scottish Terms and Conditions Board for binding arbitration. But, so far, bosses have refused this.

Unite official Dougie Maguire said, “This escalation in industrial action will lead to crucial work going unattended and there is already a long backlog of maintenance work required.

“We are also not ruling out a further escalation, unless NHS Tayside see sense and the Scottish Government intervene.”

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