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Tower Hamlets College: no to cuts and redundancies

September 13, 2009

BY COUNCILLOR ABJOL MIAH

Cllr Miah addressing the Tower Hamlets College UCU rally

Cllr Miah addressing the Tower Hamlets College UCU rally

In the coming days, 250 staff at Tower Hamlets College will enter their third week of all-out strike action. They deserve full support from every resident of our Borough.

Their action is in response to proposals to impose compulsory redundancies and cuts, including course closures, that would have a crippling effect on further education provision in Tower Hamlets, rendering our community less capable of gaining the skills and training we need to combat the current spike in unemployment.

Specifically, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes have been singled out for the chop. This is nothing short of lunacy. ESOL has equipped thousands of local residents with the English language skills they need to gain employment, partake in cultural and faith programmes and contribute to society. Without it, some of our most marginalised neighbours are left isolated and unable to fulfil their potential.

The college staff have therefore been left with no choice but to take industrial action to defend their livelihoods and the educational programmes that so many depend on. When I have met striking lecturers on the picket lines, they are full of determination and this clearly shows to my mind that Tower Hamlets College management must accept sooner rather than later that they must compromise.

They are also angry that rather than supporting them, the Labour-run council has blocked discussion of the matter in the Council and instead sat on their hands when they could be rescuing livelihoods. Nor are the Conservatives any help. London Mayor Boris Johnson could step in with the cash to save the ESOL courses, as his predecessor Ken Livingstone did, but has only issued hand-wringing platitudes.

Our Borough cannot grow and become more successful without the vital services provided by the hardworking staff at Tower Hamlets College. They all, including the women and young people who will have their opportunities in particular cut by this threat have the full backing of Tower Hamlets Respect, as I’m sure is the case for the majority of residents.

A very successful rally in Altab Ali park last Saturday was addressed by George Galloway MP, myself and Councillor Dulal Uddin in addition to striking lecturers, students past and present and many others. Please show your support by raising funds in your workplace and joining the daily picket lines.

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