Management at an east London school are running an open scabbing operation to try and break a strike.
The unprecedented move came as National Union of Teachers (NUT) union members at Langdon School in Newham struck last week in an ongoing dispute over oppressive management and excessive workloads.
Around 70 teachers took part in the solid strike. But management brought in dozens of supply teachers in order to break it.
Tim Harrison is London regional secretary of the NUT. He told Socialist Worker, “The NUT is horrified that the school has brought in agency workers.
“It is unlawful for an agency to provide staff to break strikes. We will be likely to take legal action against any agency that does so. We will also be stepping up picketing in future strikes to try and stop agency workers from crossing the picket line.”
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, told Socialist Worker, “This is a vital dispute for every teacher and trade unionist. Please send messages of support to these brave teachers.”
Langdon teachers plan to strike every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until term ends for Christmas.
Many of those crossing the picket line said they hadn’t been told that there was a strike.
Many also said they had been given temporary contracts for the duration of the strike—by a Labour-run local authority.
Giving the agency staff temporary contracts could enable the school to claim it was not breaking the law by hiring them.
The NUT has written to several agencies to stress that providing agency workers to break strikes is against the law. The union is also looking at how to escalate the dispute.
Nick Grant, a member of the NUT’s national executive committee, told Socialist Worker, “We will be asking members across Newham to join the Langdon members in action as soon as possible.”
Strikers have won enormous support from parents, students and other trade unionists.
They have received almost 150 messages of support. Parents and supporters joined their picket lines last week.
Students have also launched their own campaign. They say that changes to lesson times and tests are “setting us up to fail” and call for suspended teachers to be reinstated.
The battle at Langdon School has turned into a critical fight for the right to strike. Teachers there urgently need support from the whole trade union movement.
Invite a speaker from Langdon NUT to your union meeting and take collections for strike expenses. Contact Langdon NUT at the above email address to arrange speakers or for more information