Today 66 members of the NUT union at Pimlico School began a two-day strike. On an 80 percent turnout, 72 percent had voted to strike.
The strike was called after the head teacher, Jo Shuter, broke an agreement to restore the lunch break to 45 minutes from 2 June. The break had been reduced to 30 minutes last September, but after teachers took strike action in protest, an agreement was reached to restore it to 45 minutes.
With no consultation with the teachers, the lunch break has remained at 30 minutes. Strikers were angry at the dismissive attitude of the head to the union.
“The head is on a New Labour anti-union binge,” Padraic Finn, secretary of Westminster NUT told Socialist Worker. “It would have been no skin off her nose to restore the lunch break to 45 minutes. By going back on the agreement she has provoked this strike.”
“Most of us are made to feel like we’re not worthy,” said Angela Pack, a geography teacher at the school. “Everyone wanted to strike on principle because Jo Shuter had gone back on her word – we are being treated like shit.”
John Brennan is the branch secretary of the NUT at Pimlico School. “Jo Shuter wrote an article in the Times Educational Supplement last week talking of the need for teachers to be ‘morally sound’,” he told Socialist Worker. “But what example is she setting by breaking this agreement?”
The strikers said that many students and parents were supportive of the action – some parents had written to the head complaining that the agreement had been broken. Camden NUT and the PCS brought banners to the picket line.
The teachers may strike for a further two days next week. “This is about more than just the lunch break,” said Padraic. “It’s about trade union rights.”
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