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Hull college workers and students protest redundancy plan
Mike Whale, Hull Trade Union Council
Over 100 Hull College workers and students protested on 23 April against the planned axing of up to 400 jobs at the college. Walking out over their lunch break they heard speakers from the local trade union movement.
Particularly well received were Ellie and Annie, two criminology students who explained that the college was happy to take student money for course fees but now were planning to cut back on that course provision.
Matt Whale, speaking as international officer of Hull Trade Union Council, got a rousing cheer when he explained that the government could spend money bombing Syria but was not prepared to invest in education for the next generation. "The college should be brought back into public ownership and run democratically for the people of Hull", he said.
Tony Smith from the FCC waste workers' dispute also spoke and many students are looking to join their picket line when that starts again in a week's time.
Overshadowing the protest, which was organised by Hull Trade Union Council, were threats and intimidation from management. An email sent out the day before from the college's HR had threatened any staff member with disciplinary action for taking unauthorised strike action if they went on the protest.
Scandalously it accused the trade union council of "bad-mouthing" the college. As Andy Stankard, Unison chair, pointed out: "It seems that management can't distinguish between a lunchtime protest and a strike, which is worrying seeing as they are going to be negotiating important aspects of employment law".
As well as trying to intimidate the staff, despite being "cash strapped", the management organised a subsidised ice cream van for the students with a local mobile radio station on the other side of the campus. These attempts to stop the protest failed dismally.
In fact they show how worried management is. Both staff and students feel emboldened as a result.
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