Bradford College strike remains solid over pay and FE sector funding

UCU pickets at Bradford College

With far more pleasant weather than previous strike days, UCU members at Bradford College were out in force for the latest round of action by UCU members over pay in a number of colleges across England.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

Over 30 pickets gathered outside the college’s flagship David Hoclney building, a testament to the money that management has thrown at new buildings whilst restraining pay for staff.

The college is in crisis, having gone through 4 different CEOs over the last year, with staff increasingly despairing of the future of three further education sector. But this chaos is also making pickets more determined as what they see at stake is the existence of such educational provision.

Whilst management at Bradford seem intransigent on the pay issue, increasing numbers of management’s at other colleges are being forced to back down to the demands of striking UCU members.

Sheffield UCU branch committee member and Socialist Party member Sam Morecroft was one of those who addressed the picket line, bringing solidarity from his branch along with a donation to the strike fund and demanding college management open the books so staff can see the full extent of their mismanagement.

This latest 3 day action will continue to up the pressure on college managements, but it is vital, given the small numbers of UCU branches in FE that were able to overcome the undemocratic 50% turnout threshold, that other UCU branches and the wider trade union movement mobilising in full support.

Socialist Party member Sam Morecroft addresses the picket line

Advertisements

#FEfightback continues at Bradford College

RMT members addressed Bradford College UCU strikers

Lecturers at Bradford College embarked on their 3rd and 4th day of strike action as part of their ongoing pay campaign which also reassess wider issues around the funding being made available for the FE sector.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

There was a good mood on the picket lines with very few people crossing. A delegation of RMT members invoked on the Northern Rail dispute came to return solidarity shown by UCU members throughout their dispute. A few students also joined the picket line to express their support.

One picket told me that when they had started in FE in 2000, they had been promised pay parity with teachers within 3 years, but the gap has continued to increasingly widen.

This is a battle that can be won. On the picket line news came through of two victories at colleges that have agreed pay rises of 5 and 6% which will give increased confidence to strikers.

Elaine White, one of the Bradford College strikers and a member of the UCU NEC also told us:

“Over the last ten years of austerity UCU members working in FE colleges like Bradford College have seen at least 25% drop in the value of their pay with no significant pay rise in those years. At least 30% of teachers in colleges are working on precarious, often hourly paid, zero hour contracts and many through agencies or subsidiary companies.

“Lecturing staff in colleges are teaching diverse and working class communities, many who have not had positive experiences in their previous schools and who can be challenging. Teaching staff work hard and are determined to give them the best education we can provide but we do this with fewer resources than our colleagues in schools and on average getting £7,000 less. Teachers in the school sector have (finally) seen a 3% pay rise but there’s still nothing on the horizon for FE staff.

“UCU FE branches initially balloted their members over the FE Fights Back Campaign for a Fair Pay In FE back in October. On that occasion 6 colleges including Bradford College UCU (one of the biggest FE branches in the country) got over the Tory threshold. We took two days of strike action in November and issued a reballot which resulted in a further 10 crossing the threshold ready for the new term. So 29th and 30th have been Bradford’s 3rd and 4th days of action over this issue and if management continue to fail to talk to us over this issue, we are preparing for a further 3 days in March with more to come after that”

Messages of support to Bradford College UCU can be sent to G.Evans@bradfordcollege.ac.uk and supporters are welcome to join the picket lines.

Bradford college joins #FEFightBack for decent pay

Bradford College pickets outside the David Hoclney building which was closed for the day – photo Iain Dalton

Staff at Bradford College were one of six colleges taking strike action on Wednesday 28 & Thursday 29 November for decent pay.

Iain Dalton, West Yorkshire Socialist Party organiser

Since the Tories have been in power pay rises have been below inflation at 1% or even zero! This year’s announced pay rise of 1% hasn’t even been implemented in 40% of colleges!

UCU members on the picket line were in good spirits with the Bradford College’s flagship David Hockney building having been shut for the day due to the strike action.

At the strike rally, it was made clear that not only do college staff deserve decent pay, but this issue is linked to the wider issue of Further Education funding which has been slashed in recent years setting widespread cutbacks despite high pay rises for principals and new college buildings.

Please send messages of support to g.evans@bradfordcollege.ac.uk

Bradford University staff strike against job cuts

“Today is the day we say enough. Together we can’t be defeated.” Thus opened the strike rally on the first day of 4 days of strikes by unison members at Bradford University.

Bradford University is trying to cut 165 jobs (down from the original 250) in is latest in a series of ‘re-structuring’.

Garbed in Halloween costumes, around 50 unison members were on picket lines at both the main university campus and a satellite campus.

Angry is high amongst staff. One striker Stephen said “I’ve only been working here ten months and already I’ve been through 2 restructures.”

Unison, UCU and Bradford Students Union all have passed motions of no confidence in the universities Vice-Chancellor, Unison’s having 98% of members demanding he resign.

Messages of support can be sent to unison-executive@bradford.ac.uk

Bradford Uni joins the USS pensions dispute

UCU pickets at Bradford Uni - photo Iain Dalton

UCU pickets at Bradford Uni – photo Iain Dalton

UCU members at Bradford were one of four universities which joined the dispute over the USS pensions scheme in on Tuesday 6th March.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

Staff here had to re-ballot after narrowly missing out on reaching the 50% turnout threshold imposed by the Tories latest anti-union laws.

UCU members told us that picketing numbers were up on previous strikes. Many staff were incensed that management is intending to impose 100% wage deductions for staff who won’t reschedule lectures.

One picket told us “They’re trying to deny our right to strike. While management say our strike is penalising students, this deduction is effectively locking us out on non-strike days.”

Some students joined the picket lines, chanting “What do we want… pensions, when do we want them… when we retire” This reflects a fear amongst young people that if existing pensions schemes aren’t defended now, then what will exist in the future?

Socialist Party members got a warm reception from pickets, grateful to welcome support on a cold windy day. We will continue to build support for strike over the next few weeks.

Protesting to Defend Children’s Services in Bradford

Socialist Party members joined a People’s Assembly organised protest  in Bradford city centre on Saturday 10th February 2018  in response to £13 million cuts to Early Years and Prevention child services.

Julie Carr, Bradford Socialist Party

Around 50 people attended, including Unite union representatives, staff working for the council,  families that been helped by these services, independent Bradford  councillors as well as the general public.

The weather was not the best but many people stopped and signed the petition. Speeches were given by: someone who had suffered from post natal depression helped by these services and  David Ward (independent councillor). When one of the local Unite reps gave his speech I was shocked to learn that 437 people are to lose their jobs. This was because I had read the reports in local paper; The Telegraph and Argus, whom only recorded the job losses as 200.

I spoke at the protest to talk about cuts in Bradford in general. I felt it was important to do so as they all have a knock affect with each other. Especially in the case of the planned STP across West Yorkshire.  In these new proposals more closures are planned, such as reducing the present number of stroke units across West Yorkshire.

This I felt was a particularly important point to make at this protest. Often it is the job of child services to support disabled or ill parents. If there is no support who is going help stroke victims with childcare and travel during rehabilitation

Protest against cuts to early help children’s services in Bradford

bradford early help protest

Trade unionists, service users and supporters protest against proposed cuts to early help service – photo Iain Dalton

Around 20 people gathered in Centenary Square ahead of Bradford Council’s monthly meeting to protest against the proposals in the consultation of the the early help service, part of the Children’s Services directorate of the council.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

The plans which are currently being consulted on propose £13m cut mostly in making up to 480 staff redundant but also downgrading children’s centre across the district, currently used by 22,000 children aged 0-4 years old, 60% of all under fives.

Trade unionists in the council, users of the service and their supporters distributed leaflets produced by the local unite branch, with a warm reception from the public.

David Ward, former Lib-Dem MP, and now an independent councillor in Bolton & Undercliffe ward – spoke to demonstrators opposing the proposals and mentioned the Green group on the council were challenging the proposals too.

Unfortunately, the response from the Labour leadership on the council is to double down on pushing these cutbacks through. Val Slater, the Executive member covering the service told the local press “Naturally people have a right to protest but until Government starts to address our major concerns regarding funding for children’s social care, then we have to manage with the limited funding we have.” As if the government are going to change their position without pressure being exerted on them to do so.

If Labour councillors want to follow through on Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies then they ought to be leading the fight to force the money out of the government to fund vital local services, such as this or the library service which faces a further near £1m worth of cuts in the forthcoming budget proposals. Anything less than doing so is a dereliction of duty for those who want to fight the cuts, which should include putting forward a no-cuts budget for 2018-19.

In the meantime, campaigners are planning for a second, larger demonstration to take place outside the council budget setting meeting in February. Socialist Party members will be arguing that this should be opened out to all those fighting against the various raft of cuts being made by the council.