Socialist Worker

Reports round-up - Ealing parents organise against academies

Issue No. 2564

Ealing NUT members during a previous strike

Ealing NUT members during a previous strike (Pic: Stefan Simms)

The NUT union in Ealing, west London, has successfully blocked three schools from converting to academies.

In two schools the threat of strikes was enough to push the plans back. In another, teachers struck for five days.

Two disputes remain in a primary and a secondary school. In Dormers Wells High, teachers have struck for six days. In Fielding Primary School more than 100 parents turned up last week for the angriest parents’ meeting I have ever attended in over 30 years.

They unanimously agreed three demands. They are:

  • That the consultation be extended to 31 December.
  • That there is a public debate between the NUT and our MP versus the head teacher and chair of governors.
  • That the Electoral Reform Society holds a vote of all parents.

Stefan Simms

‘Atos profits from our pain—we say never again’

Campaigners from Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) ended their week of action with a protest outside the headquarters of hated firm Atos in central London last Friday.

Atos runs assessments for Personal Independence Payments (Pips) paid to disabled or terminally ill people.

But many have had their Pips removed after being assessed, leaving them isolated and without the support or equipment they need.

Protesters held a picnic outside the office and succeeded in forcing security to lock the main entrance.

They chanted, “Atos out—Tories out” and, “Atos profits from our pain—we say never again”. It marked the end of a week of action that also saw Dpac members protest inside parliament last Wednesday.

Dpac activist Paula Peters told Socialist Worker, “It should be noted that, of those who lose their benefits completely after being assessed, 67 percent win their appeal. That shows Atos’ assessments are not fit for purpose.”

She added, “We will make this the summer of discontent, and turn it into the autumn of discontent and then the winter of discontent.

“We’re calling on all disabled people to get outside your nearest assessment centre and protest.”

Strikers block Merseyrail

Merseyrail workers shut down almost the entire network last Sunday in their latest walkout against bosses’ moves to get rid of train guards.

The importance of ensuring a safety-critical guard on every train was underlined over the weekend by reports of a guard extinguishing a fire.

Meanwhile, planned strikes by guards and drivers on Southern—set to begin on 1 August—were suspended by the RMT and Aslef unions for talks with Tory transport secretary Chris Grayling.

The Tories want to axe guards across Britain.

Unions are now in dispute with several rail firms over this issue. The quickest way to win is to coordinate for nationwide strikes.

Alba Pasmino reinstated

Cleaners at London School of Economics (LSE) celebrated the crowning victory to their long running battle against contractor Noonan.

One cleaner, Alba Pasmino, was sacked last year but was reinstated last week following an employment tribunal hearing.

Three days of strikes over the graduation period at the university were suspended to await the decision.

The official reason given for Alba’s sacking by bosses was “a review of the supervisor structure” and how Noonan could “best deliver an efficient service to our client and the public”.

Alba is 63 and two years from retirement, which may have had more to do with her sacking.

On top of that, she was one of the driving forces behind the cleaners’ battle for equal pay and conditions as other workers at the LSE.

That ten-month campaign won earlier this month, with cleaners set to be taken back in-house and employed by LSE by spring next year.

Screw that - Tories attack prison officers

Tory ministers have secured a permanent court ban blocking prison officers from taking industrial action.

The Ministry of Justice asked for the High Court order after the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) suggested in February that members should refuse to do voluntary tasks.

The POA is appealing the attack on workers’ right to take industrial action.

Bank on resistance to the pay freeze...

Maintenance, security and other workers were set to strike for four days at the Bank of England from Monday of next week.

The Unite union members are fighting a derisory pay offer—the second in a row to be less than inflation, with no rise at all for some staff.

Meanwhile bank governor Mark Carney tops up his £480,000 salary with £5,000 a week for housing costs.

This would be the first strike at the bank in over 50 years, Unite says.

...And make a song and dance about it

Workers at the Royal Opera House in the Bectu section of the Prospect union have submitted a 4 percent pay claim.

It also includes a demand that the employer recognise the London Living Wage and “review” the use of casual and zero hours contracts.

Jailed for resisting nuclear apocalypse

Brian Quail and Angela Zelter have been thrown in jail after refusing to accept a court order banning them from campaigning outside a nuclear arms base.

They were arrested for taking part in a blockade of the nuclear warhead store at Coulport. They were offered bail, but only if they agreed to not go within 100 metres of the Faslane naval base.

Quail and Zelter refused to accept those conditions and will be kept behind bars until their court date on 3 August.

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Just two days from a demolition order

Up to 100 angry residents attended an emergency meeting in Tower Hamlets, east London, last Tuesday.

A demolition order had been issued for Lister House at just two days notice.

Labour mayor John Biggs, backed down in the face of repeated criticism from the audience.

He told the meeting he was “sorry” and promised proper compensation if demolition did eventually go ahead.

Martin Hayward

Remembering Mark Duggan six years on

A vigil is to be held on Friday 4 August to commemorate the sixth anniversary of Mark Duggan’s killing.

Mark was shot dead by police on 4 August 2011 after a car he was driving in was pulled over in a “hard stop”.

Questions remain about his death. Mark’s family are demanding justice and requesting support.

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Article information

Tue 25 Jul 2017, 14:37 BST
Issue No. 2564
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