Teachers in the NUT and NASUWT unions struck this morning (Thursday) at Stratford School Academy in east London.
Their picket line was swelled by parents of school students and by teachers from other schools in the borough.
They are outraged after the academy’s head docked the pay of teachers who said they would take part in the unions’ national action short of a strike.
“People had already been nervous about the action,” said NUT rep Steve Charles. “Management are painting this picture that they were willing to negotiate—but they’d already decided the action we wanted over lesson plans and classroom visits was ‘non-negotiable’.”
“And then a letter went out almost immediately, telling teachers to email the head saying they wouldn’t take part in the action or else have their pay cut. So people were feeling very oppressed.”
The deputy head has been visiting individual teachers. And as well as the threat of a pay cut, teachers face finding their future progression up the pay scale docked.
So when teachers were told to email the head saying they would not take part in the action, many did. But those who didn’t had their pay docked. That’s when the unions issued notice of a strike.
“In the meetings it became clear that people were prepared to strike,” said Steve. “Even teachers who hadn’t followed the action short of a strike were prepared to come out in defence of union members.
“It’s given people some confidence back—although there’s still a fear of the reprisals for anyone who is seen to do ‘too much’.”
The repression at the school has outraged teachers across the borough. Several brought letters of support from their schools to the picket line.
George, a teacher from nearby Rokeby school, brought pages of signatures on a statement supporting the Stratford teachers.
“It’s been really uniting,” he told Socialist Worker. “Nearly everyone has signed it. People are asking why aren’t we out with them.”
Teachers in the NASUWT union were set to protest outside a meeting of the governing body this evening. And both unions are preparing for a two day strike the week after half term, followed by three days the week after that.
Send messages of support to Steve Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org