Massive strike vote at Independent schools chain
Thousands of NEU members at 23 independent schools in the Girls’ Day School Trust have delivered a resounding Yes to the first strikes in the Trust’s 194 year history.
The Trust are threatening to take them out of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. This would see them lose tens of thousands of pounds over a life time – with average cuts to pensions around 20 percent compared to TPS.
The result of the ballot was an astonishing 95% yes vote on an 84% turnout. This was a postal ballot to people’s homes.
Reps and members have been forensic in their approach to the ballot. They have engaged in meetings and training and taken strength from each other.
One of the most shocking elements was that all teachers would be fired and rehired on the new conditions.
The Trust is in a healthy financial position according to figures seen by the union, and many have refurbished buildings and their are plans for major spending on more new buildings too.
Members feel this prioritisation of fancy buildings over the conditions of teachers is short-sighted and will harm the education of pupils by demoralising staff.
Discussions are now taking place around when the first strike days will be if the Trust do not back off.
- In a parallel dispute over TPS withdrawal at the independent Forest School in Waltham Forest, east London teachers have also backed strikes in a ballot by a 94% yes vote. Discussions are now taking place to set first strike days there too.
- For both disputes we will confirm where messages of support can be sent once first strike dates are confirmed
Victory at Salisbury Manor
The six women support staff members in the NEU at Salisbury Manor. part of the large Multi academy trust – United Learning, were celebrating victory this week.
They had been told they had to sign new contracts or face the threat of fire and rehire to impose them.
The new contracts meant they would be working longer hours for less money per hour and a reduced sick pay.
The women organised themselves to agree a ballot for strike action in defence of their existing terms and conditions.
A petition of nearly 700 signatures and a leaflet was created which depicted the women toppling the ULT giant, went out not only to parents at Salisbury Manor, it also went to parents at other local ULT schools.
On Friday ULT agreed not to impose the contracts and to keep them on existing terms.
One NEU member at the school says: ”Thank you everyone who worked so hard for us we really appreciate it just proves that no matter how many of you there are if you have a strong enough belief in what your fighting for it can be done”
Gordano set to strike
NEU members at Gordano school North Somerset are taking the first of 6 planned days of strike action this Thursday.
Whilst the threat of action has forced management to concede a lot, there remains one significant point managers need to move on over parents evening timings.
Members are clear the strike will go ahead if this is not met.
- Messages of support please to district secretary Jon Reddiford on [email protected]
Defiant at St Matthew’s
Teachers at St Matthew’s primary in Preston remain defiant as the governors at the Church of England school are set to push through academisation this week.
Despite 12 days of strikes governors refuse to listen to staff and are set to convert the school on 1 February to join the Cidari Multi Academy Trust run by the Diocese of Blackburn.
Strikers were on the picket line last week and were boosted by a visit from NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney.
Now teachers plan to continue to make their feelings known. NEU rep Julie Copeland says: “We will all be wearing black this Tuesday, the school as we know it will have gone. The governors are hoping the school will convert this week and then everything will be forgotten- but I don’t know how they expect us to do that because they still haven’t sat down with us”
The resistance has strengthened the union in the school and that can ensure gains moving forward.