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Students at Lambeth College sent text messages to tell them classes are off as strike bites

6 June 2014

Lambeth College has been hit with widespread disruption following the indefinite walkout by members of UCU on Tuesday, according to the college's own contingency plans.

  • College's own internal documents detail disruption as staff walk out indefinitely.
  • Students on college's flagship foreign language courses sent text messages telling them to stay away all week.
  • Widespread disruption at Lambeth College, despite use of agency staff and bizarre promise of free lunches.

The union has seen the documents and said they highlighted not only the disruption due to cancelled classes, but also the fact that the college did not even know how bad things were in some departments.

UCU said that serious questions were now being asked about the judgement of the principal Mark Silverman who failed to stop or break the strike, but is still refusing to negotiate with the union.

Students studying classes in the college's flagship department that teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) received text messages telling them to stay away from the college all week as their classes have been cancelled.

Despite using agency staff and bizarrely promising free lunches for teachers, on Wednesday and Thursday alone there were classes cancelled in courses as diverse as maths, English, theatre skills, music, cookery and employability. In other departments classes were merged to try and cope with the disruption.

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

UCU regional official, Una O'Brien, said: 'There is clearly considerable disruption at Lambeth College. The principal might be trying to put a brave face on things but serious questions are being asked about his judgement.

'He refused to negotiate properly with us about the new contracts and then tried to block our strike action by going through the courts. He is now presiding over indefinite strike action, widespread disruption and patchy information on what classes can still take place. Instead of trying to break the strike, he must now realise the time has come to resolve this mess.

'I am happy to repeat our pledge to suspend the action if the college simply agrees to 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.

Last updated: 10 December 2015