UCU members at Gateshead College take strike action again

  • Chair of UCU at Gateshead College, Richard Bathgate and UCU National President, Kathy Taylor


Gateshead College UCU members were given a boost in their fight against unfair workloads as National President, Kathy Taylor, came to visit their picket lines when they took further strike action on Wednesday 10th October 2012.

Kathy Taylor said:

Strike action is a last resort for our members.  Unfortunately, it seems that the College just don’t want an agreement with us and that’s why UCU is having to take this disruptive action.  Our members want the time to do the job properly and provide the quality education that they know they can deliver.  I salute those who are taking the very difficult decision to take strike action today, and call on the College to sit down and come to a sensible agreement with our UCU representatives at the College.

Pickets were up early again and were at every site of the College, buoyed by the many messages of support from across the region:

Julie Young from the Civil Service Union, PCS, said:

Solidarity greetings to all UCU members on strike at Gateshead College today from PCS Northern Region.

Jude Letham, Regional Secretary of UCU said:

On behalf of UCU members in the Northern Region, may I pass on our hopes for your industrial action on Wednesday being strongly supported and successful.

As you well know, many of your UCU colleagues can fully empathise with your plight; having experienced cuts to salary, threats of redundancy and attacks on terms and conditions.  The issues you are facing with regard to workload have clear implications for jeopardising both the health and well-being of your members and the quality of education they will be able to provide.

We are very grateful to you for the stand you are taking to oppose these attacks and maintain quality education.  You have our wholehearted support.

Mick Sim, Branch Chair of UCU at Tyne Met College said:

On behalf of the members of the Tyne Met Branch I write to wish you every success in the forthcoming day of industrial action.

The professionalism of teachers and lecturers within FE sector is continuing to be undermined with the insidious replacement of lecturers with assessors, instructors and facilitators. This is nothing less than the institutional introduction of education on the cheap in order to reduce costs.

The fact that your members have stated that they feel their skills and experience have been ignored and the talents of lecturers are not being valued, demonstrates the passion they feel towards delivering the best possible education for students now and into the future. There is a real potential for a dilution of the quality of the learner experience and a general decline in educational standards if the policy of changing terms and conditions of service within the FE sector continues for financial expediency.

You have the full support of this Branch in your endeavours to preserve the professionalism of your members. It is incumbent on all of us within the sector to resist these short-sighted and foolhardy changes.

Tony Dowling, NUT representative said:

Solidarity to Gateshead College UCU lecturers striking again today against appalling pay cuts and attacks on conditions!

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) Newcastle Amal branchhttp://www.cwunewcastleamal.org/ said:

Support and solidarity to Gateshead College lecturers today

Solidarity greetings were also received from NESSN http://nessn.org.uk/ and many others, including a message from the President of the Open University Branch of UCU, Roger Walters, “to extend this branch’s support to you in your battle against what appears by any stretch of the imagination to be appalling local management” hoping that “the firm action by members persuades the local management to come to its senses and negotiate an acceptable way forward”.

Meanwhile, the Principal had decided, whilst he was away on business in the Far East, that his best efforts on the day would be served by writing an online letter to students, rather than trying to resolve the dispute.  See http://www.gateshead.ac.uk/news/2012/october/response-from-principal,-richard-thorold,-to-ucu-action/

Online coverage of this week’s strike and the reasons for it can be found at:


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