Our second issue of our new weekly solidarity report by the NEU Left. If you have a dispute or a report you want us to spread the word about just get in touch. Email: [email protected]
We urge all our supporters to send messages of support and solidarity to colleagues on strike or in dispute. It may seem a small thing- but as anyone who has been on strike knows these messages do make a real difference. You don’t need to write an essay- just a quick line saying you heard about the dispute and are sending your solidarity on behalf of your school group of NEU district is enough.
Many strikers are also keen to come and speak at school or district meetings about their fight. Just email requests to them and they will get back to you- and this is much easier in a time when many meetings are virtual of course.
Solidarity calling- an injury to one is an injury to all.
A striking week in Newham
NEU members at Newham Sixth Form College continued their strike action last week against unfair management practices, workload and academisation.
They plan another three day strike this coming week too, and more set for the following weeks unless management retreat.
The strikes have seen solid pickets on each of the three strike days and are strong and united.
Strikers have been heartened by both the many messages of support and solidarity from NEU groups around the country and visits from NEU President Daniel Kebede, Redbridge NEU Haringey NEU, UCU, Unite and PCS.
Strikers are united to win against a management who still haven’t listened to a 97% yes vote on strike action.
They would really welcome invites to spread the message about their fight by speaking at virtual district or school NEU meetings. If you can please email invotes with date and time of meeting and other details to NEU rep Rob Behan at [email protected] and the strikers will get back to you promptly.
INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS ACTION BALLOT
Hundreds of NEU members at 23 independent schools run by the Girls Day School Trust are balloting on strike action over their employer’s attempt to push them out of the Teachers Pension Scheme and impose a new , worse scheme.
Management say they cannot afford the Teachers Pension Scheme contributions following National Insurance contributions rises. Yet these would cost GDST around £6 million. They are about to spend £140 million on new buildings. GDST finances are healthy and they can afford to keep staff in the TPS.
Staff voted by over 90 percent on a turn out of over 90 percent to fight the change in an indicative ballot and are now holding a legal action ballot across all GDST schools for strike action. The ballot runs until 26 January- and strikes could follow unless management retreat.
One teacher at a GDST school told Solidarity Calling: “We worked so hard, we gave it all right through Covid. They can afford it so why are they treating staff so badly”.
As well as the new scheme costing many staff potentially thousands of pounds loss in their pension a big concern is that while under the TPS your pension is guaranteed for life, the new scheme is dependent on market fluctuations and also is structured in a way that means some staff could see their pension pot run dry and be left at some point without a pension as they get older.
Every NEU member should get behind the GDST members fight. They are fearful of being identified so please send messages of support to us if you can at [email protected] and we will pass them on.
FOREST SCHOOL IN PARALLEL PENSIONS FIGHT
IN A parallel fight to that at the GDST independent school chain around 90 NEU members at the Forest School independent school in Waltham Forest are due to finish their strike ballot this week.
The issues is exactly the same as at GDST, with the school management trying to take staff out of the Teachers Pension Scheme.
Management have threatened to “fire and rehire” staff to impose the new inferior pension scheme they are pushing. An indicative ballot say a 94% turn out with a 91 % yes vote.
*Messages of support to joint NEU branch secretaries for Waltham Forest: Paul Phillips [email protected] and Sandra Faria [email protected]
Support staff ballot
NEU members working as classroom support staff at Salisbury Manor primary school in Waltham Forest, east London, are this week beginning an official strike ballot over major attacks on working conditions.
The six support staff, all women, are facing an attempt to impose new contracts which will lengthen working hours, cut hourly rates and slash sick pay by up to 50 percent.
The school is part of the United Learning academy chain.
- send messages of support to Joint Waltham Forest branch secretaries Paul Phillips [email protected] and Sandra Faria [email protected]
More strikes at St Matthews
Governors at St Matthews primary in Preston are still refusing to listen to staff, parents and community who are fighting against academisation,
So strikes and picket lines will continue this coming week and the one after. Staff also plan demos outside the Multi Academy Trust HQ and at Blackburn Cathedral – it is a church school.
*Messages of support to NEU Rep Julie Copeland at [email protected]
Hundreds of thousands of school workers struck across France on Thursday of last week over Covid safety.
Teachers’ unions said 75 percent of primary school workers and 62 percent in secondary took part. Half of primary schools closed and in Paris strikes shut 200 schools overall.
This was the biggest school action since 2003.
The biggest school strike in France for 19 years was backed by all 11 education unions in the country and the national FCPE parents’ organisation, and saw over 100 demonstrations in towns and cities across France which saw educators joined by parents and students in many areas.
Anger at the government’s chaotic handling of Covid and failure to provide proper safety measures in schools laye behind the strike. Educators want schools open, but want proper safety measures in place- from air purifiers, CO2 monitors, proper medical grade masks for teachers, and circuit-breaking class closures from the first confirmed case in a class.
Unions are discussing more strikes in the coming weeks as France grapples with a surge in Civid cases, averaging over a quarter of a million new cases a day last week.
The NEU has sent a message of support to French colleagues at a national level. But it would be good for districts and school reps to do the same.
- Send your own message to [email protected]