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Police warn striking Tower Hamlets college lecturers over pickets

PUBLISHED: 17:00 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:46 05 October 2010

Striking lecturers at Poplar (top) and Stepney (above)

Striking lecturers at Poplar (top) and Stepney (above)

POLICE have warned striking college lecturers on a mass picket line in East London that they could be breaching the Public Order Act. The lecturers who began an indefinite strike today over cuts to jobs and education courses at Tower Hamlets College were outside the main campus when officers arrived

By Else Kvist Pictures: Carmen Valino

POLICE have warned striking college lecturers on a mass picket line in East London that they could be breaching the Public Order Act.

The lecturers who began an indefinite strike today over cuts to jobs and education courses at Tower Hamlets College were outside the main campus in Poplar High Street when officers arrived.

Up to 60 lecturers turned up for the picket at one point. They were warned about having more than six pickets at a time, made illegal under the Public Order Act brought in during the 1984 miners’ strike.

The strikers insisted they were not causing obstruction and had left enough room on the wide pavement for passers-by. There were no arrests and police left.

The lecturers have been picketing the main campus in Poplar and campuses in Bethnal Green and Stepney in protest at 13 posts being lost in education cuts they say will hit thousands of adults in the East End wanting to learn English to help them into work.

They launched a street campaign for public support today, handing out leaflets in markets, public libraries and housing estates as well as Royal Mail’s East London regional sorting centre at Bromley-by-Bow where postal workers are involved in their own industrial action over cuts.

The UCU lecturers’ union holds a public meeting next Thursday (September 3) at St Mathias Hall in Poplar High Street at 5pm.

The strike has been targeted to coincide with the first day of enrolment at the college. Around 2,000 students were due to enrol in the language courses by next week.

Lecturers say 90 per cent of students at the Bethnal Green campus backed their walk-out by refusing to enrol. Around 200 students turned up, but only 27 crossed the picket.

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