All out for USS

The Manchester College (TMC) prison strike: 4 August 2010

UCU prison educators working for The Manchester College (TMC), which runs courses throughout England, went on strike on 4 August 2010 in protest against the introduction of new contracts.

Reports received at UCU head office show that there was very strong and united support for the action:

  • 'Feeling elated and optimistic after having the privilege of standing shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues at HMP Liverpool, all of them, in the pouring rain, heads raised, united in fighting for Justice in Prison Education. Good reaction from prison staff, support from regional admin trades union official, morning mail delivery van refused to cross the picked line and one PO refused to cross the picket line.'
  • '100% turnout from UCU members at HMP Downview this morning – we got great support from the prison staff.'
  • TMC prison strike, HMP Birmingham, 4 Aug 10 Pickets at HMP Birmingham 'At HMP Birmingham we had most members out on strike, with 10 of these supporting the picket... two non-union members refused to cross the picket and stayed out with us on the morning shift. Managers decided to cancel education on the lifers wing (5 classes), 2 workshop classes, 2 forklift classes and 2 from vulnerable wing, concentating on running classes on the main education block... our picket raised awareness from everyone; prison visitors, local community and officers. Good coverage from local press for us and Brinsford, hitting local papers, radio and both local TV news channels. Well done to all strikers/pickets around the country. Some photos on UCU's facebook page.'
  • TMC prison strike, HMP Brinsford, 4 Aug 10 Have tent, will picket - well-prepared at HMP Brinsford At HMP Birmingham and HMP Brinsford BBC Radio FM did live coverage plus we had BBC and ITV cameras. There was also a number of reporters from local newspapers. There were pickets of 20ish at both and despite awful weather (first thing) both pickets looked impressive. Brinsford had set up a tent and urn etc - it was brilliantly organised. Birmingham ran the picket morning, lunch and teatime, even though one of the reps is actually on leave. Prison officers were supportive and encouraging of both pickets.'
  • There was a picket line at HMP Werrington. The local rep was on holiday but had encouraged the members who organised themselves in her absence. 
  • 'A very wet picket line at HMP Lindholme was in good spirits as a dozen striking UCU prison educators were joined by supporters from Doncaster College, Barnsley College, York College and Doncaster NUT. The new UCU rep at Lindholme baked some UCU buns for the event and the party atmosphere was added to with food hampers, hot drinks and a bowl of sweets that were handed out to visitors and staff going into the prison.  Radio coverage was good with items on BBC's Sheffield and Leeds and Radio Humber (or Hull). There was TV coverage from Yorkshire's Calendar news programme. Two representatives from the Lindholme picket line left at 10 am to drive to Manchester to join colleagues from other prisons at a rally.'
  • 'It was a good show both a HMPs Wymott and Garth. Thanks all for standing out in the rain, and all the prison staff gave words of support.'
  • TMC prison strike, Sheppey Cluster t-shirts, 4 Aug 10Home-made t-shirts at Sheppey Cluster. The back of the one on the right says: 'The higher they build their barriers...'." 'Most members were on the picket line at HMP Woodhill. There was also great support from officers, civilian staff and visitors: 'At one time the education governor came out to us and told us that TMC had emailed to say that we were only allowed 6 pickets. Another bullying tactic. We ignored the advice after checking with the UCU,, and the police... We made placards and printed leaflets ourselves. We also had both of the local newspapers making reports and taking photos. I would like to thank all my members for turning out today, we had torrential rain and all got soaked but all kept our spirits up.'
  • TMC prison strike, Sheppey Cluster, 4 Aug 10 Mass picketing at Sheppey Cluster Many members were on the picket lines at Sheppey Cluster (HMPs Elmley, Standford Hill and Swaleside). A Post Office van turned back from the picket line.
  • At HMP Winchester we had most members picketing from 7.30 this morning: 'After an hour or so we were asked to move off prison property. By that time we had handed out all our leaflets and talked to many staff coming into work. We had loads of support from officers and other members of staff... we were all really pleased with the reactions we got and feel that it was very worthwhile to take this day of action.'
  • 'Just to let you know that at the Hmyoi LancasterFarms our action yesterday resulted in 73% of activities not running. Hopefully this will have been reflected nationwide. Get them back to the table.'
  • 'HMP Risley had most of its members out on strike.'
  • 'HMP Holme had 11 staff at work and I'm so proud that the rest of us stayed off... Managers put a presentation event on in Chapel with chocolate bars as prizes. Managers covered classes on afternoon e.g. Woodwork team leader covered IT etc.
  • 'Here at HMP/YOI Swinfen Hall we had over a dozen members out on strike, and 4 other non-UCU staff supported us by not coming in. This resulted in 14 cancellations in the morning and 14 in the afternoon, with managers having to cover to keep the cancellations down. Our new acting manager is trying to say that staff on Learning Support contracts should take groups on their own!!! I have told them to refuse and point to the clauses in their contracts which clearly state they are there to support tutors.'
  • 'We were successful in closing the department down yesterday at HMP Wymott although Unison staff ran the workshops as normal and feelings are still running high over the key issues which for us are the hours, inequality with our mainstream FE colleagues and appalling pay cuts imposed. We are fully supportive of the union and an insidious piece of propaganda that particularly grates is TMC's insistence that staff who have signed are therefore happy to do so. They sign because they have no choice!'
  • 'We at HMP Hull are about 20+ strong - on strike. About 6 of those will be at the rally in Manchester another 8 were outside the prison and the rest just stayed at home. We calculated that we saw about 12 people go in, including 4 management staff... The POA were very good, they wished us luck and came up almost to a man to say hello.'
  • HMP Bullingdon had 6 on the picket line from 0800-0900. 'A few decided not to strike but agreed not to cover classes for the strikers. A number were on holiday. We had good support from the prison with a governor and the main POA rep talking to us and very friendly. Many people asked for details of what we were doing and were supportive.'
  • Members also took action at HMPs Acklington, Isle of Wight, Featherstone, Leeds, Grendon and Springhill, Maidstone, Dover IRC and many more who have not yet sent in reports.

National media coverage

Local media coverage

Last updated: 14 October 2016