By Phil Clarke, Secretary Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NUT
On Thursday 24th May NUT members took determined and solid strike action against cuts to teachers' and lecturers' jobs at Sussex Downs College. There was no evidence that any classes ran at all at Park College, the Eastbourne campus organised by the NUT, and public support was very much on display - one car even pulling over to hand out boxes of ice lollies bought for the pickets! This is all the more remarkable as now no Park members face compulsory redundancy, but while some NUT members still face reductions in hours it was very much felt that 'an injury to one is an injury to all' and this could not be accepted by the union.
Sussex Downs College is making a 10% reduction in staffing as funding cuts and the scrapping of EMA have lead to fewer students and less money. This means fewer teachers, teaching more hours and students getting less lesson time. The NUT, supported by the NASUWT, has made it clear that these cuts will be fought and if management do not back down over cuts to our members further action will be scheduled. We also hope that the undoubted success of the strike will give UCU, who organise the other campuses, confidence to do the same; the only disappointment of the day was that the strike was not across every one of the college's campuses.
Beyond Sussex Downs, the strike has shown that strong school or campus based union organisation is vital to protect teachers conditions. The confidence and determination displayed by NUT members here will be a signal to teachers across East Sussex suffering under increasing pressure and workload that we can strike back.