Unofficial solidarity action by teachers in support of low paid kitchen staff severely disrupted Haggerston School in Hackney, east London, on Wednesday of last week.
Eleven kitchen workers at the school, who are employed by the multinational Sodexho, struck for equal pay with similar workers in the borough.
Many of the school’s teachers refused to cross the picket line and joined the workers outside the school. This was despite their NUT union writing to them to inform them that they had to work during the strike.
“Most of the kitchen staff at this school earn the minimum wage,” Paul Fawcett, the regional officer for the T&G section of the Unite union, told Socialist Worker. “The rest of the kitchen staff across the borough earn £9.20 an hour, which was negotiated by the T&G.
“The workers’ claim is for parity with other kitchen staff, but Sodexho are not playing ball. When we offered a compromise of £7.20 an hour, the London living wage, Sodexho threw it back in our face.
“We are going to escalate the dispute by widening it and hitting Sodexho by organising boycotts of its canteens.”
A teacher at the school told Socialist Worker, “We have a good tradition of solidarity between different unions at this school. This issue is a gross example of exploitation that we can’t ignore.
“If more privatisations like these occur, similar issues will affect more and more people.
“Everyone supports the kitchen staff, even those who didn’t stay out today. We met together and informed people that they would have to cross the picket line today and people said they were not prepared to do that.”