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Richmond Picket

Extra strike day at Richmond upon Thames College over Fire & Rehire

8 June 2022

Staff at Richmond upon Thames College will warn prospective students and parents about the behaviour of college management as an extra strike days were called to coincide with college open days in a bitter dispute over plans to fire and rehire 127 teachers.

UCU members at Richmond upon Thames College will down tools on Tuesday 28 June, which is a college open day. The college describes the open day as an opportunity to 'meet our teachers' and 'speak to our teaching staff'.

The dispute has seen over 70 staff take five consecutive days of strike action last month (Monday 23 to Friday 27 May) as they try to stop plans by management to sack all 127 teachers at the college and force them to reapply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions. UCU had offered to pause any further action if management lifts the threat of compulsory dismissals for staff that do not sign new contracts. However, management has repeatedly refused and insists staff would have to reapply for their jobs on new contracts that would see them lose 10 days holiday.

Staff are also continuing to take action short of a strike by working strictly to contract and not performing additional voluntary duties.

The college's constituency MP, Munira Wilson has called on the college to withdraw the threat, saying: 'the fact that the college has issued a section 188 notice (which begins the consultation process to fire staff), whilst still in the process of negotiating with those affected, undermines their ability to negotiate in good faith. I have urged the college to withdraw the section 188 notice, as I believe this could help bring the strike to an early end and allow for an amicable settlement to be reached.'

The behaviour of the college has also been condemned in the House of Lords by renowned QC Lord John Hendy and MP Barry Gardiner, author of the Fire and Rehire bill, has pledged to visit picket lines again in support of staff.

The strike action follows an overwhelming 97% of UCU members who voted in the industrial ballots saying yes to strike action. The turnout was 88%, smashing the Tory anti trade union legal threshold of 50%.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The last thing management at Richmond upon Thames College should want to see is prospective students and their parents visiting the college only to walk past a picket line of teachers protesting at the how they are being treated. But this is exactly what they will see if the college continues with its deplorable plan to fire and rehire all 127 teachers.

'We are urging the college to listen to its staff and its MP and lift the fire and rehire threat so open days aren't disrupted.'

Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North said: 'The management at Richmond upon Thames College are not only treating their staff disgracefully but dragging the reputation of the whole organisation through the mud. Fire and rehire is a practice repeatedly used by some of the worst employers in the country and it should be of great alarm to the local community in Richmond and the surrounding areas that it is being used to strip back the terms and conditions of their hard working teachers.'

Last updated: 14 June 2022