Socialist Worker

Victimised rep Simon O'Hara faces new threat as strike suspended

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2495

Victimised NUT union rep Simon OHara with strikers last month

Victimised NUT union rep Simon O'Hara with strikers last month (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Teachers at Small Heath School in Birmingham were set to hold a crucial meeting on Wednesday to discuss their continuing battle against bosses.

The NUT union members have held three three-day strikes in defence of their victimised union rep Simon O’Hara.

The national union suspended a fourth strike on Tuesday of last week as bosses lifted Simon’s suspension.

This showed how flimsy that suspension was.

The union was right to say the suspension was aimed at victimising an effective union rep. But bosses suspended Simon again on the same day, this time on the basis of a private email that was mistakenly sent to the wrong person.

Their real reason remains the same—to try and weaken union organisation at Small Heath School.

The union should not have called off the strike. But the fight can still be won.

Teachers should vote for the union to ballot them as soon as possible for action against oppressive management.

And any resolution to the dispute must include Simon’s reinstatement. The NUT should throw its resources behind this fight.

It should go on the offensive in the media about conditions teachers face at the school.

It should get strikers touring schools in Birmingham and across Britain to put their case.

It should call a national protest in Birmingham in support of Simon and Small Heath teachers.

It should demand that other trade unionists and campaigners get behind the dispute and raise solidarity.

It is a matter of national importance that an activist is removed for carrying out the NUT’s policy.

Strikes forced bosses to retreat on plans to turn the school into an academy and halted planned redundancies earlier this year.

Hard-hitting action, such as an all-out strike, can beat them back.

Courage 

Workers have shown great courage and determination throughout this dispute.

But union officials refused to sanction an overwhelming vote to escalate the strikes. One teacher said this “knocked the stuffing” out of workers.

Another said they felt that “management are crowing” after the action was called off last week.

Several teachers have told Socialist Worker they feel intimidated in the school, particularly since Simon was suspended in January.

They know that bosses will return to their planned attacks given the chance.

One told Socialist Worker, “They want a new structure and a new timetable.

“This will bring back the problem of redundancies.”

Another said, “It will be catastrophic if we don’t win. Other schools turned into academies have become more regimented.

“There’s a high staff turnover and a high number of supply teachers.

“The community doesn’t have a say in anything.”

The battle at Small Heath is about more than defending one union rep.

It is about defending the right of workers to organise collectively and defending education.

That’s why the union needs to urgently step up the fight to win.


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