Socialist Worker

St Aloysius teachers build action from the foundations

by Ken Muller, assistant secretary, Islington NUT (pc)
Issue No. 2209

Teachers occupy Balfour Beatty

Teachers occupy Balfour Beatty

Teachers in the NUT union at St Aloysius College, in Islington, north London, took their second day of strike action on Thursday of last week.

They are in dispute over the safety of a new building.

During the action, they took their battle for a school fit for 21st century education to the HQ of building multinational Balfour Beatty in central London.

They briefly occupied the building’s foyer.

They held placards with the slogans “Balfour Bullies” and “Pupils Not Profits”.

A delegation handed in a letter to Ian Tyler, the firm’s chief executive, calling on Balfour Beatty to drop threatened penalty payments on its contract to rebuild St Aloysius.

This would mean that the planned demolition of a good building can be stopped and pupils and school staff will not have to move in to a new building.

Head teacher Tom Mannion has called the new building “inadequate”, “unacceptable” and “a disgrace”. It has a number of glaring deficiencies.

The design and technology rooms are L-shaped, meaning they are difficult for teachers to supervise effectively.

They are also too small to safely accommodate the potentially hazardous power tools and machines used in teaching.

At a recent public meeting parent Joanna Haran said, “I send my child to get educated, not electrocuted.”

Staff and many parents support the retention and refurbishment of the existing building. This has larger and better designed rooms than the new one.

The main stumbling block to this outcome are the terms of the contract with Balfour Beatty.

Local authorities should not be employing private companies who put their shareholders’ dividends before the interests of students.

Teachers, support staff, parents and suppprters were to lobby the council executive on Tuesday of this week.

Teachers plan to escalate to two days of strike action from next week if the issue is not resolved. They are determined to win and will continue fighting for as long as it takes.

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Article information

Tue 6 Jul 2010, 17:36 BST
Issue No. 2209
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