Solidarity in the workplace- staff in some schools have already shown the way

Palestine- build movement in the workplace

Make something happen in your school on UN day of solidarity with Palestine on Wednesday 29th November

The horror in Palestine- cheered on by western governments- has provoked fury and anger on a huge scale – and also seen a magnificent response in protests and demos.

We can’t let up now- and building next Saturday’s national demo is a top priority for every NEU activist.

It has been great to see our national leaders speaking at the protests, and the statements the union has put out have been a real help in mobilising.

Students in some areas have staged walk-outs, protests and marches which have been inspiring- and the NEU should stand in solidarity with students and defend any student who is threatened with disciplinary measures for standing up for Palestine.

And everywhere the NEU should be standing up to make schools safe spaces where the issues around Palestine and the Middle East can be discussed in an educational and professional manner- and oppose all attempts to censor or clamp down on such discussions.

It is vital that unions are visibly seen to be at the heart of the movement.

Thanks to the fantastic work many members have done the NEU presence has become more visible and has grown as the movement has developed- with more banners and delegations on union blocs on marches and protests each week.

And last week’s workplace day of action saw excellent activities in some schools- from collections to collective Ceasefire Now selfies and the like.

But it was only a few schools and there is much work that urgently needs to be done to build and strengthen the movement in our workplaces.

Everywhere we need to fight to get even more banners and delegations onto next Saturday’s demo- to make the union and the NEU even more visible.

But we also need to drive the movement down into the schools.

A good start would be to do a collection- either for Medical Aid for Palestine or the excellent joint NEU/Save the Children appeal.

Print a collection sheet, put your own name with £10 or £20 at the top and go round colleagues asking them to contribute.

This small but vital step is the first in building collective workplace organisation around the Palestine movement.

Can you get some of those who contribute to agree to come and march as a group on the next demo- and if you don’t have  school banner can you get a few people together to make one, perhaps with Palestine colours visible too?

And next time there is a workplace day of action can you get some people together to hold up Ceasefire Now signs, and even better if they agree to do a selfie which can be shared.

These small steps are not easy always- but they are vital if we are to build the movement in the workplace which is the first and principal duty of trade unionists in the coming weeks.

A key focus is the official United Nations “Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people” set for next Wednesday 29th November.

That the UN is calling for such a day, and organisations behind the protests here are calling for that day to be one of workplace action gives a real opportunity 

Let’s fight to make something happen in as many schools as possible next Wednesday.

Let’s make sure more schools take part in UN day of solidarity with Palestinian people next week

Victory at Connaught

NEU union members at Connaught School for Girls in Waltham Forest, east London have won a massive victory as the plans for multi-academisation have collapsed. But the battle continues.

After 15 days of strikes since July, the school informed the NEU that Star Academy has decided that it was not in their interests to take over the school.

The announcement came the day after a mass picket at the school which had the NEU general secretary Daniel Kebede present as well as NEU exec members and reps and officials from across London.

The support from the general secretary gave weight to the escalated action that members had asked for. The NEU had just sanctioned four days of strikes per week for three weeks.

The victory is a massive blow to the government’s privatisation of education agenda. Star Academies is one of the favourites of the department for education with a chief executive who is now chair of the confederation of trust schools.

The government would have been confident that it could simply out-muscle a union group and pressure the school into transferring. The odds against a win were high in these circumstances.

However the fight was turned onto the government and with the help of Strike Map and others, 200 people emailed education secretary Gillian Keegan opposing cuts and the transfer.

The government picked a fight with the wrong group and the wrong branch—Waltham Forest NEU.
The issue of changes to the working day have not been resolved. So far on the balance sheet is stopping academisation, no compulsory redundancies and improved conditions.

There are several keys to this win.

The strike breakfast meetings, in which workers had control over the direction of the dispute were very important. So were the escalation of action and the support from the local branch.

The final factor is the war in Gaza. The events of the last few weeks have been the talking point on each of the strike pickets and strike breakfasts and members have been on the demonstrations.

This win should be a sign to every trade union member across the country—fight and you win. The other side is not as powerful as you think or even as powerful as it thinks.

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