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Bizarre twist in Lambeth College strike as boss offers free lunch to staff working during strike

5 June 2014

The increasingly bitter dispute at Lambeth College has taken a bizarre twist as the principal has offered free lunches to staff prepared to work during the strike.

  • UCU says college's desperate bribe proves there really is no such thing as a free lunch 
  • UCU members are on indefinite strike action in row over new contracts
  • UCU offers to suspend action for talks if college suspends controversial contracts

Members of UCU at the south London college began indefinite strike action on Tuesday. The strikers have vowed not to return to work until their increasingly bitter dispute over the erosion of terms and conditions is resolved.

Lambeth College strikers, Jun 14 UCU members picket Lambeth College in their dispute over contract changes As a result of the walkout classes have been cancelled across a range of departments. UCU said the offer of free lunches from principal Mark Silverman was a desperate move that would do nothing to break the impasse.

The dispute centres on the college's introduction of contracts for new staff which will mean they work longer hours, have fewer holidays, will work during the traditional college holidays, and will have less sick pay.

The union said it is prepared to suspend its action if the college will also suspend the imposition of the new contracts to allow negotiations to take place. UCU said that rather than insulting staff with derisory bribes, the principal should be making every effort to solve the dispute.

UCU regional official, Una O'Brien, said: 'This desperate stunt from the college aimed at reducing support for UCU's strike proves the old adage that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Staff and students want an employer prepared to listen to employees' concerns, not a complimentary sandwich.

'Lambeth College has tried every trick in the book to try and block the strike and failed. The time has now come for the college to resolve the mess and stop trying to break the strike. We will suspend our action if the college will suspend the contracts. We can then sit down and sort this out.'

In the strike ballot, a massive 89% of UCU members who voted backed the call for industrial action, on a very high turnout of 72%. 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. UCU members took a one-day strike on Thursday 1 May and began their indefinite walk-out on Tuesday.

Picket lines will be held from 7.30am every morning at the college's three sites at Brixton, Clapham, and Vauxhall.

Last updated: 3 April 2019