LEEDS TEACHERS called off a strike at the last minute last week after education managers conceded to their demands. Paula Champion, who was set to strike, celebrates.
'The last week of term is normally a bit of an endurance test. This week it began anxiously for union activists. We rang round schools to talk about the day's strike planned over the compulsory redundancy of four NUT members in the city.
'The reports were great. In primaries where there might only be three members they were walking. In high schools there would be so many coming out that a significant number were likely to close.
'A colleague of mine, teaching in a suburban high school where there had been no union profile all year, called to say how the place had suddenly come alive with teachers debating the need to take action. There was also great support from parents and carers.
'Then on Wednesday lunchtime - at the eleventh hour - I received a call from the union office. The chief education officer had informed the union nationally that he was prepared to withdraw the threat of compulsory redundancy for our members. The teachers would continue in employment next term during which time Education Leeds would work with the union to redeploy them!
'We had won! I was proud of our union and its members. When the leadership of the branch had pushed for action they gave confidence to the members and lifted a lid on what was clearly a boiling pot of anger. That mood must exist in every school over a whole number of issues.
'Unfortunately there will be teachers and support staff in other unions who will lose their jobs on 31 August as a result of their unions' inaction. Next term it will be important for the NUT leadership to argue for a joint union ballot for action by all the education unions against compulsory redundancies.'