Members of a teaching trade union at Lewisham and Southwark Colleges (LeSoCo) voted last week to strike over college plans to axe jobs and cut courses.
The University and College Union (UCU) members were balloted in response to college management proposals, which the union claims will lead to around 35 job losses as well as the closure of the floristry department and a reduced number of courses offered by the science department.
UCU regional official for London, Chris Powell said: “The ballot result reflects the deep anger and disillusionment amongst staff at LeSoCo.
“Strike action is always a last resort, but they feel they have no alternative now to try and defend their jobs and the education of their students.”
The union said the college’s claim that the courses were undersubscribed did not stand up to scrutiny, countering that both floristry and science courses at the college have had more applications than this time last year.
The union warned that the college’s plans had left some students in limbo, as they could not enrol for the next year of their course, as it is still unclear if the course will be running in September.
Maxine Room, CBE Principal & Chief Executive at LeSoCo told ELL: “We are committed to providing education to enable local people to get into work, employment and further education.
“The courses we provide are based on demand from the local community, the skills employers want and need, and the quality of what we do.
“We continually review our provision on this basis to ensure that our offer remains fit for purpose which can lead, as in this case, to changes to provision.”
The UCU added that the college had not carried out a proper consultation on the proposals and, despite several formal requests, college governors refused to meet UCU representatives to discuss a way forward.
The result of the industrial action ballot at LeSoCo – with campuses in Lewisham, Deptford, Waterloo and Camberwell – was 86 per cent in favour of strike action.
Striking college staff will stage a one-hour protest outside the Lewisham Way campus on Wednesday July 17.
Following this week’s protest, the UCU said it would consider the possibility of further industrial action.