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Staff at Lambeth College overwhelmingly back indefinite strike action in bitter contracts row

23 May 2014

Members of UCU at Lambeth College have overwhelmingly voted for strike action in a row over proposed changes to terms and conditions.

A massive 89% of UCU members who voted backed the call for industrial action, on a very high turnout of 72%. Union ballots usually get a turnout similar to local and European elections due to the rigid regulations they must follow. UCU said such a high turnout demonstrated the strength of feeling at the college.

The union said it will be speaking to local members and expected to announce strike plans early next week. It added that the college's recent approach to the dispute had made a swift resolution even less likely.

Staff had already backed indefinite strike action in a previous ballot. However, the college used anti-union laws to take UCU to court and force an injunction that only permitted a day's strike action.

Members took a one-day strike on Thursday 1 May and said the college's decision to go through the courts to stop them walking out indefinitely was likely to have hardened members' resolve.

The dispute centres on the college's introduction last month of new contracts for new staff joining after 1 April 2014 which will leave them with bigger workloads, but less sick pay and fewer holidays. UCU said the changes would leave new joiners working longer hours than all but three of London's 38 further education colleges.

UCU regional official, Una O'Brien, said: 'The overwhelming mandate from UCU members at Lambeth, despite pressure from the college and the knowledge that this could be a long and bitter dispute, is quite remarkable. We hope that the college will now move away from confrontation and sit down with us to resolve this mess.

'The college was wrong to resort to anti-union legislation in an effort to halt staff from taking legitimate strike action. Delaying the strike thanks to a technicality has done nothing to improve relations with staff and only hardens our members' resolve in this fight to defend working conditions.'

Last updated: 10 December 2015