Teachers and support workers at Langdon Park School in Tower Hamlets, east London, were considering a new offer from management as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday.
The NEU members had been set to strike on Wednesday and Thursday.
They are fighting an £800,000 cuts package—10 percent of the budget. It could see 18 jobs—nine teachers and nine support staff—axed. And many workers also face pay cuts and increased workload.
Behind this staff are also passionate about defending the quality of education they provide for students and the local community in one of London's poorest boroughs.
This week’s planned strikes were called following a 96 percent vote in an official ballot. Support workers are split between the NEU and Unison unions. Unison is balloting for strikes. The NEU initially gave notice for eight days of strikes—two days this week and three in each of the following two weeks.
But NEU members were worried the dispute could drag out and unanimously voted for much more hard hitting action. A delegation of staff met with NEU national officers of the union and convinced them to increase the action.
If this week’s 48-hour warning strike does not produce an acceptable outcome, NEU members will strike from Tuesday of next week continuously until just before the end of term in July. This is the hardest hitting action the union has called in a school dispute and members are grateful for the signal it sends that they have full national backing.
The school has a significant outstanding loan to the borough following a mishandled restructuring two years ago. The boroughs insistence that the school has to repay this within four years is massively increasing the scale of the proposed cuts.
That is why staff have already met with Labour mayor John Biggs, local councillors and local Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick and asked them to intervene.
There was a carnival atmosphere as parents joined the picket lines at Springfield School in Birmingham last Thursday.
The NEU union members are striking for three days every week against a restructuring package.
Fight for equal pay hots up in Sussex
Teachers in Sussex plan to escalate their fight over pay.
A strike on Wednesday of this week will see a walkout by NEU union members at seven schools. And a
three-day walkout from 3 July will involve 12 schools.
Many teachers in East Sussex are paid less than teachers elsewhere, including in nearby Brighton and Hove. NEU members at five schools have already struck for two days earlier this year.
Phil Clarke is secretary of the Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NEU.
“The government is disgracefully underfunding schools,” he said. “However it is a false economy to underpay teachers.”
“This will only make worse the teacher recruitment crisis and is damaging our students’ education.”
The schools striking on Wednesday 27 June are Pashley Down Infants, Ocklynge Junior, Cavendish (primary and secondary), Ratton, Hailsham Community College, Bourne Primary in East Sussex and Central CE School in West Sussex. They schools striking on 3, 4 and 5 July are Priory School Lewes, Uckfield Community Technology College, St Catherine’s College Eastbourne, Peacehaven Community School Seaford Head School, Pashley Down Infants, Ocklynge Junior, Cavendish (primary and secondary), Ratton, Hailsham Community College, Bourne Primary in East Sussex and Central CE School in West Sussex.
Council calls for Inner London pay rates
NEU union members at Connaught School for Girls planned to strike this Wednesday over pay.
Workers at the privately-run academy in east London have taken 12 days of strikes so far in a fight for Inner London pay as an Outer London school.
They passed a motion last week that welcomed the council’s pledge to campaign for Inner London pay across Waltham Forest.
The motion added, “We have no intention of allowing the campaign to fade away.
“However we are willing to postpone our next planned day of strike on condition that these positive words are accompanied with deeds.”
The motion called for the council to set a date for a borough-wide mass rally and a mass lobby of the Department for Education in autumn.
Workers are committed to “further escalating action next term” if no progress is made.