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Letter in the Advertiser on Tower Hamlets College strike

September 11, 2009

This letter in support of the Tower Hamlets College strikers appeared in the Advertiser this week, from Councillor Dulal Uddin, Respect Group Deputy Leader

Cllr Dulal UddinNo group of dedicated teachers goes on indefinite strike action lightly. Yet this is what staff at Tower Hamlet College have been forced to do, as I learned from visiting picket lines last week.

What’s at stake is the future of Tower Hamlets college as a provider of essential education services. Funding has been cut to the college which has led to maths, vocational training and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes being slashed. This will impact adversely on our young people who are desperate for a decent start in life and on women from the ethnic minorities desperate to be full and independent citizens.

Everyone seems intent on passing the buck for this disaster. The Labour government claims it is a decision of the funding body which is a quango over which they have no direct control. But they set it up and they can override it. The Labour council refused to debate the issue at the last full council meeting and claims it is the government’s responsibility although they have funding which could help the situation. Conservative mayor of London Boris Johnson is, as usual, doing nothing to help, by marked contrast with his predecessor.

George Galloway and the Respect Group of councillors will be giving the fight against these disastrous cuts our full support at a rally called by the striking lecturers this Saturday at 2pm in Altab Ali Park. We urge all concerned residents of Tower Hamlets to attend the rally.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Tony Parsons permalink
    September 17, 2009 11:48 am

    Staff at the college have not been ‘forced’ to go on strike indefinitely, staff at the college have chosen to go on strike for political reasons and to ensure that their stranglehold of the college continues.
    The college was recently graded as only saisfactory by ofsted, the previous inspection resulted in the colleg being classed as outstanding. the college has also received two notices to improve by the LSC in relation to poor results of students.
    THC management is attempting to secure the long term future of the college, by ensuring it’s financially viable and once again graded as an outstanding college.
    The results of students directly affect the level of funding received by the college, if students are not achieveing, the college gets less funding and therefore less students, which obviously results in the need for fewer staff.
    Education in the FE sector is not compulsory and is linked directly to government funding. If the government cuts funding courses and jobs get cut.
    By going on strike the union is jeopardisning the future of the whole college.
    The difference between the college strike and the tube strike, is that unlike when a tube strike is over passengers get back on the tube, once the college is dtrike is over the students will be studying elsewhere.
    The longer the stike goes on the less funding the college will receive next year which will result in further job cuts.


    • John Budis UCU Joint Branch Secretary permalink
      September 17, 2009 9:38 pm

      Thanks Dulal for supporting our strike to Defend Education and Jobs. We are in our third week of indefinite action to reinstate thirteen memebers of the teaching staff who have been sacked.


      If only we did have a political stranglehold over the college. We wouldn’t be fighting compulsory redundancies. These are uneccessary and as has been pointed out to Michael farley and the governors only serve to destroy goodwill.

      The college as you rightly point out is funded by the government at the moment. This is public money. It currently has six million pounds in reserve. We maintain that it is obscene to be slashing provision (especially ESOL) when you have such a surplus.

      As for the two OFSTED reports. By and large we have the same teachers now as we did at the previous inspection. At the same time the Senior Managemnt Team has resembled a revolving door and have implemented new strategies that have undermined our professionalism with the consequent results.

      I leave readers to draw their own conclusions.

  2. pressofficethr permalink*
    September 17, 2009 1:34 pm

    Hi Tony

    Obviously, we do not agree. The reason that there is so much resolve amongst such a wide layer of college staff is because they know that the management’s philosophy, far from about taking forward educational acheivement, is based on a totally unsuitable business model.

    You say that the strike is occurring because of ‘political reasons’. What are these? It is entirely legitimate to strike to defend fellow colleagues and demonstrate that if the college management will not fight for what is best for the local community, the staff will.

    Needless to say, the strike – now on day 15, I believe, continues to receive the fullest support from Tower Hamlets Respect.

  3. Tony Parsons permalink
    September 18, 2009 10:27 am

    The teaching staff have not been ‘sacked’, the teaching staff have been made redundant because the college is no longer receiving funding for their programmes. The college made a very generous offer which was turned down by the Union.
    How long do you think the college can subsidise teachers delivering unfunded programmes? The £6m in reserve will probably now have to be used for the redundancy payments for every employee at the college!

    It’s terrible that people are losing their jobs but the same is happening across the FE sector and will continue to happen. Both hackney and Newham colleges have made redundancies this year and last year. It’s the nature of the sector, there’s no such thing anymore as a job for life in FE.

    Striking and therefore not teaching the students of Tower Hamlets will have a neagative effect on the students education and jeopardises the future of the college.

    I suggest you call off the strike, get back to teaching the residents of Tower Hamlets and work with the college inorder to regain a status of outstanding & improve success rates, which in turn will reduce the possibility of future redundancies. Continued striking makes future reduncies inevitable


    • pressofficethr permalink*
      September 18, 2009 10:41 am

      And what exactly is it that you do in your job at Tower Hamlets College, ‘Tony’?

  4. Tony Parsons permalink
    September 18, 2009 11:41 am

    I’m a cleaner, you’re continous striking will also cost the jobs of cleaners and security gaurds.

    • billie Loebner permalink
      September 19, 2009 12:59 pm

      hey tony

      i see the strike as an act of integrity and commitment to their duty,
      as professional educators with many years of experience and skill: Expertise which represents far more socially and economically valuable a commodity, than this ridiculous short-term, blinkered, ‘look-after-number-one’ ethic that’s blighting today’s societies with disastrous global effect for us all.
      Teachers who, furthermore, are prepared to stick to their principles in the face of even more callous and uninformed nonsense, than the clichéd little tracts you have taken your own precious time to pen.

      I just want to point out that things will definitely get horrifyingly worse for this country, and very quickly, if we do not educate our young people:
      Look at yourself, articulate and yet living on a cleaner’s wage -and i know that’s not easy, having been one myself -before i got my second chance as a student at Tower Hamlets College about 5 years ago.

      And, Tony, how will you go about fighting when the college, refuses you a decent raise?
      -Or, if they are allowed to let things go the way you would have it, when they decide to cut your job?
      What will you do?

  5. John Budis permalink
    September 19, 2009 10:53 am

    Tony the cleaner

    The money that it will cost the college to end the dispute is now less than 0.25% of it’s annual budget. The 13 lecturers in question have been made compulsary redundant.

    I have worked at the college since 1992. We have faced worse funding problems in the past YET we have never had to resort to making teachers leave against their will.

    This is the core of the dispute.

    Hackney and Newham did not serve a 30 day notice. They negotiated over a long period of time and avoided compulsory redundancies.

    You still haven’t answered my assertion about the key component that drove down our OFSTED status.

    You play so fast and loose with your figures and arguments I think your talents are lost in your current position.

  6. Alison Lord permalink
    September 20, 2009 11:33 am

    Hmm I am always very sceptical of those who publish anonymous tirades. Tony: if you are a cleaner come and speak to us at the picket lines where we can discuss things properly and good-naturedly. John etc are right – you need to organise within your union. If you are Senior Management or marketing well… I can’t be bothered really. They have said it all and you know why we are doing this. If you are someone else… say someone who used to work at the college at least have the honesty to say so. As I said at the beginning it would be nice to know who we are talking to.

  7. Magdalena permalink
    September 21, 2009 8:52 pm

    Hi Tony,

    just an aclaration. The 13 teachers (or at least some of them) have been actually SACKED under the disguise of compulsory redundancy.
    An example: Hair&Beauty, 4 teachers sacked, the rest of the department has to do compulsory overtime(!!!) and the courses with waiting lists (!!!!). Would you say that those 4 teachers are no longer needed?? or it’s maybe that they are not longer wanted …. ?

    And one more thing, if some of them have been actually (and legitimately) made redundant they wouldn’t have won the appeals. This proves the inefficient and unprofessional way of doing things by the SMT as well as their carelessness. I feel really sorry for this.

    Having said that I really hope to solve this situation soon and work together towards the success of THC without any resentment.

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