University and College Union members at Tower Hamlets College in east London won a victory in late September after nearly a month of strike action.
In June the college announced 25 redundancies and plans to halve student numbers on its Skills for Life courses, among other cuts. In this poor London borough with high unemployment, local people rely on such courses to enable them to get the skills they need to be able to apply for work.
Having balloted for action, the lecturers immediately planned carefully for the strike to begin at the beginning of the autumn term. There would be minimal strike pay, so they raised money from other colleges, unions and the public to support members as necessary. Funds raised would go where most needed, for instance where a couple would both be striking, or a member was in real hardship. Picket rotas were drawn up to ensure coverage from first thing in the morning until the evening, involving the maximum number of members and keeping morale high.
The compulsory redundancies were finally withdrawn after talks at ACAS, and UCU members returned to work in late September ready to fight another day.