Socialist Worker

Teachers coordinate strikes in London over school cuts - and protests are planned

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2551

Forest Hill School teachers and others marched in London last Saturday

Forest Hill School teachers and others marched in London last Saturday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Workers at three schools in south east London began a coordinated two-day strike against cuts on Tuesday of this week.

NUT union members at Forest Hill School, Corelli College and Plumstead Manor School walked out, and GMB union members at Plumstead Manor also struck.

The walkouts followed a strike at all three schools on Thursday of last week, and a 100-strong protest last Saturday.

The cuts are being overseen by Labour-run Lewisham and Greenwich councils.

Meanwhile NUT union members at St Edward’s sixth form in Havering, east London, were also set to strike on Thursday of this week. They are fighting job cuts and increased workload.

Joe, the NUT rep at Forest Hill School, told Socialist Worker, “The council released a statement following our strike last week.

“It said they had considered the ‘value for money’ of the cuts. I thought it was scandalous.”

Parent Lynley, who joined Saturday’s march, said she was “very angry” at the council. “I don’t understand why councillors think they can say it’s not their problem,” she told Socialist Worker.

“I’ve had councillors tell me that they’ve done all they can. But they haven’t. It’s not fair.”

Forest Hill School faces £1.3 million in cuts. Up to 17 jobs are at risk at Corelli College and 30 at Plumstead Manor—the vast majority of them support staff.

Parents

The strikes are well supported and parents have set up anti-cuts groups too.

Some 50 people joined the Plumstead Manor picket line last week. Orkun, the NUT rep, told Socialist Worker, “When we first heard about the cuts there was gloom. In 2014 we lost about 45 positions and we didn’t stand up.

“But now the GMB and NUT are working together. Our school is a comprehensive school—we see it as an asset we need to defend.”

Strikers explained how money was found to fund an annexe in an academy in the borough. As parent Richard put it, “The money’s there—it’s about political will.”

The cuts in south east London are just the tip of the iceberg. The Tories’ so-called fair funding formula will snatch £3 billion a year from schools in England by 2020.

NUT union members backed coordinated strikes against cuts at their annual conference this month.

Joe said, “I’d support bigger coordinated strikes. It feels like we’re at the vanguard of the fight, but the cuts in our borough are part of a national policy.”

NUT president Louise Regan joined Saturday’s march. “This is just the start of the cuts,” she told Socialist Worker. “The general election is a good opportunity to ask candidates if they are going to oppose cuts.”


Six protests planned against Tory funding cuts

Activists have called Saturday protests against education cuts in five areas across England. Bristol, Sheffield and Leamington will all see protests on Saturday 20 May.

A protest will take place in Lancaster on 13 May, and another in Newcastle on 27 May.

London delegates to the NUT’s annual conference voted to hold a regional protest in the capital on 24 June.

The union should bring this forward—a Saturday protest over education in London could mobilise thousands onto the streets.

NUT members in Lambeth and Wandsworth, south London, have called a protest at Old Palace Yard, parliament, on Thursday 18 May from 5pm.

Other teachers will back it.

 


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