Friday, 2 October 2009

Leeds College of Art Strike Action: Tuesday 29 September

A big thank you to all the members who supported our strike action this week by joining our picket line or by simply not showing up for work. Thank you also to the UCU Branches and members who came along as well. It's great to know that Leeds University UCU and Leeds Met UCU have the time and commitment to support a small college like ours and that members are prepared to travel from Bradford and further afield to support us.

We had more press coverage that our previous day of action; featuring alongside similar actions at Doncaster and Barnsley College on BBC Look North reports on Monday and all day Tuesday; being covered with other industrial actions in the region on Calendar and a lengthy interview played on Radio Leeds throughout the day; and an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Our actions resulted in the Foundation course being unable to attract enough supply teachers and having to give the students an independent study day, while elsewhere in the college whole departments and workshops were closed.

A marked difference between this and previous actions has been the amount of support shown by students and members of the public. Throughout the day Branch members engaged students in discussion about the key issues of the strike and the wider context of union activity within the college. Students were both supportive of our actions and shocked by the reluctance of management to engage in conversation with us. Our petition has been an important tool in engaging a wider public and currently the number of signatures stands at approximately 750, though continuing to grow daily online

Julie Kelley, an UCU regional official who was on the picket line with us did manage to have a conversation with Simone Wonnacott who promised that her door was open to UCU and our Regional Office has been busy ensuring that Simone holds to her word.

Elsewhere in the region there was some very good news on the eve of the strike. Following an 11th hour meeting with management on Friday, the Askam Bryan College branch were able to confirm to us that management had agreed to a schedule of meetings over the Autumn term with a commitment to resolving the current dispute. The first two meetings have already been scheduled during October with ACAS facilitating. Consequently, the branch have agreed the suspend strike action.

As our IOU campaign continues we should take heart from the victory by UCU members at Tower Hamlets College which shows that union action is effective in changing the direction of management.

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