Tuesday, 10 March 2009

UCU pink & purple day of action: Wednesday 11 March

UCU members at Sussex Downs College at Lewes, Eastbourne and Newhaven campuses are to hold a 'pink and purple day of action' on Wednesday 11 March as they step up the fight to win their pay award still owed from four years ago following their well supported strike last month.  (See previous article on these pages dated 2 February for the background story.)

The Wednesday protest comes before the planned strike action due to take place on Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 March and is being organised to help spread word of the campaign and to build even more support for the fight against college management.

The battle, which is described by the union as "the longest IOU in industrial history", has already involved members in 11 other colleges across the country taking industrial action. Since this successful strike last month a number of these colleges have now agreed to pay the money owed from four years ago. But Sussex Downs College management have so far refused to honour the deal. They claim that there is no money available due to the "current economic climate" yet they managed to find enough 'spare' cash for the principle, John Blake, who's salary increased by £24,000 only last year taking his income to £168,000 per annum! This increase alone would be the equivalent of around 30 teachers moving up one increment to the agreed harmonised pay scales.

Along with the Socialist Party and Brighton Trades Council, the UCU campaign is being supported by the recently launched Shop Stewards network in Brighton and the South East. Maximum solidarity and unity amongst working people and their communities during disputes such as these can help all working people achieve victories in their campaigns. Email us at info.bhsp@gmail.com to pass on messages of support and to find out how you can help the UCU workers win what is rightly theirs.

[A press release from Nick Wurr, UCU Sussex Downs College]

Next Wednesday there will be a union stall in the foyer with leaflets and information. This will be in operation from 8.30am and there will be a petition which everyone will be invited to sign. 

To raise the profile of the event and to put pressure on management everyone should wear a visible item of clothing in pink and/or purple. This is an opportunity to dust down any hippy paraphernalia or any 80s power-dressing purple suits that you have been meaning to get down from the attic - if only you could find the right occasion. The more adventurous may wish to dress in the period of Oscar Wilde (add your own particularly fave historical period). The serious reason for this is that it is really effective in highlighting our dispute in a less conventional manner. 

Benji Lamb, President of SDC NUS, is encouraging students to participate as this is a way that students can visibly show their support without having to take part in an active demonstration. It is really important that you participate by wearing pink or purple on the day.

Strike Action: The strength of support for the first industrial action was phenomenal and clearly showed management the depth of feeling. Two further days of action have been planned. It is now up to management to enter into serious negotiations to avoid further disruption. From the union meeting there was strong support for this further action tempered with a reluctance to disrupt student learning. However, the feeling was that this further action needs to be strongly supported so that we haven't lost a day's pay for nothing. The initial strike action forced management to bring forward the pay harmonisation meeting from the 20th March to 11th March. This shows how effective the collective action was.