By Oyintari Ben
Lewisham College employees in the United Kingdom have staged a protest. They shut down the institution on Monday to voice their dissatisfaction with the low wages in the industry.
This was demonstrated in a viral video seen by Heritage Times HT, in which the instructors complained that their reduced income no longer allowed them to pay their bills, which was negatively affecting their emotional and mental well-being.
The southeast London borough of Lewisham is home to Lewisham College, a further education institution. It was founded in 1990 after operating under the Inner London Education Authority from the early 1970s and going by the name SELTEC (South East London College of Technology). The institution has two campuses: its main site is in Brockley on Lewisham Way, and its second one is on Church Street.
The salary gap between teachers in schools and colleges currently stands at almost £9,000 since 2009. Pay in higher education has also lagged behind inflation by 35% since 2009.
The College’s librarian, Peter Bicknell, announced he was going on strike because his finances had worsened and his pay had been locked for too long.
He declared, “I frequently go into overdraft these days. It has become highly challenging because of rising energy and food prices.
“I’ve had enough. Some of my coworkers are in a lot worse situation than me, which has been accumulating for months. Following freeze after freeze, [pay] has been frozen. I’m hoping this will make a difference.
Unqualified college teachers can make as little as £21,000 per year, according to UCU. In contrast, qualified teachers can make as little as £26,000.
While RPI inflation is currently at 12.3%, the employer representative Association of Colleges recommended a salary increase of 2.5% in June.
The educational company NCG employs personnel as well as Lewisham College.
“When you can’t pay the rent or your transportation, you have to find the solution to start doing any extra work,” one of the professors, Georgi Bochevski, said. Additionally, you can use credit cards or overdrafts if you don’t have time for an additional job. And you start to struggle mentally when you can’t meet these necessities.
Portia Tertullian, a different teacher, said she is concerned because she doesn’t know how long the situation would persist without a solution.
The students could also be seen standing beside their professors during the protest. For example, Millicent Zwane, a student, stated, “I support it 100% since it is unfair to the teachers because when I arrived this morning to study, I learned that there was a strike about pay.