Union calls national 'day of action' in support of staff on indefinite strike at Lambeth College

The University and College Union (UCU) has called a national “day of action” tomorrow in support of staff in their fourth week of a strike at Lambeth College.

The UCU has asked members working at colleges and universities across the country to help increase awareness of the indefinite industrial action launched on June 3.

They will be invited to upload supportive photos and messages to a digital Wall of Support on the UCU website and tweet using the hashtag #IsupportLambethUCU.

A UCU spokesperson said Wednesday’s activities would also include lunchtime protests, cash collections for those on strike, collecting signatures for a petition backing the action and emailing Lambeth principal Mark Silverman.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said: “No educator enjoys taking strike action and indefinite action is a rare occurrence indeed.

“This day of action is an important opportunity for our members around the country to show they support their colleagues at Lambeth and I have no doubt our members will respond magnificently.”

The strike was called over new contracts containing longer working hours and offering less annual leave. The new contracts offer 50 days a year annual leave — 10 days less than that given to existing staff.

However, Mr Silverman, who declined to comment on the UCU’s “day of action,” has said the terms of the new contract, which was introduced from April 1, were “in line with sector norms”.

He said the contract change was part of the college’s recovery plan following financial deficits of £4.1m in 2012/13 and £3.5m this year.

He added: “It is a shame that UCU are not more eager to prevent further damage to learners, their members and the college.

“I would, however, like to thank the vast majority of staff who are not striking for their hard work and continued support, rest assured we will continue in our efforts to resolve the dispute for the good of the learners and our college.”

The Association of Colleges declined to comment on whether members were taking measures to reduce any potential impact of the action. The UCU declined to comment on how many colleges and universities would be involved.

See Ms Hunt and Mr Silverman outline their views on the Lambeth College strike more fully here.