Socialist Worker

Reports round up: Moulsecoomb workers say yes to academies battle

Issue No. 2665

There is widespread opposition to academisation

There is widespread opposition to academisation (Pic: Anti Academies Alliance)

Workers at Moulsecoomb primary school in Brighton could strike against a plan to turn the school into an academy.

NEU, GMB and Unison union members at the school have all unanimously voted for strikes against the plan.

The Department for Education (DfE) has threatened to forcibly academise the school after the schools inspectorate Ofsted branded it “inadequate” in May.

The plan has generated widespread opposition from workers and parents.

Some 300 people joined a protest against it earlier this month. Ian Stevenson, an NEU rep in the South East, has written to the DfE asking it to halt the conversion. He said he is “extremely concerned” that the school would not improve if run by a private firm.

“Research shows that local authorities have a much better record at improving schools and doing so more rapidly,” he said.

Stevenson called for a new Ofsted inspection.

He added that turning the school into an academy risks disrupting work being done by new head teacher Adam Sutton.

Brighton and Hove NEU rep Paul Shellard said converting the school into an academy would be “disruptive and expensive”.

“Moulsecoomb is not a failing school but one that needs funding and support,” he said.

Stirring up trouble for Diageo bosses

Over 500 workers at Diageo drinks manufacturers are set to be balloted for strikes over their annual pay award.

They join 1,500 Unite and GMB union members across Scotland in fighting the bosses’ offer of a 2.5 percent pay rise.

Workers rejected a further 2.8 percent pay award made through Acas conciliation service talks.

Unite blasted the firm last week after Diageo announced an increase in pre-tax profits to £4.2 billion yet has failed to offer workers a higher rise.

Building an east London fightback

Around 50 council workers in Newham, east London, are set to start a programme of strikes.

The housing maintenance workers voted unanimously to fight over a “myriad of issues” including a new pay structure that could mean pay cuts of up to 20 percent.

The Unite union members are also angry about poor communication about pay deductions and a bullying culture.

The carpenters, electricians and plumbers were set to walk out 2, 5, 23 and 27 August.

A longer wait for employment justice

Employment tribunal claims are taking an average of eight months to be heard, a new study has revealed.

Waiting times have got longer for four consecutive years, with some cases not set to be heard until 2021.

The research, by employment law firm GQ Littler, found there were 35,430 claims last year—a rise of more than a quarter.

The increase has been partly attributed to tribunal fees, which were brought in by the coalition government and were abolished in 2017.

The Courts and Tribunal Service has been forced to refund fees.

A win for victimised Brighton bin rep

The GMB union has suspended walkouts by refuse workers in Brighton and Hove.

Workers had planned to strike on Monday of this week and on Friday of next week.

The union said the suspension came “in light of an agreement by the council to revoke the continued unfair exclusion of a rep from his workplace”.

“The rep has been at the centre of anti-trade union behaviour from some council officers,” the union said in a statement.

The workers are employed by the Labour-run Brighton and Hove City Council.

Living Wage ballots open

The United Voices of the World union (UVW) is balloting workers for a summer of strikes over the Living Wage.

Ballots over walkouts will be held in the White Chapel building, University of Greenwich and St Mary’s Hospital, all in London.

Workers employed by the Royal Parks, including Richmond Park and Buckingham Palace, are among those set to vote.

They are paid an hourly rate of just £8.21, well below the London Living Wage of £10.55.

Cleaners at the Ministry of Justice—also members of UVW—have already voted overwhelmingly to strike.

Some 92 percent of workers that took part in the ballot voted to take action.

Rail safety fight is back on track

Strikes against Driver-Only Operated (DOO) trains could be on the cards after guards on the South Western Railway voted by 86 percent to resume action.

DOO train services threaten passenger and worker safety.

The RMT transport union members have voted overwhelmingly five times to fight the mass rollout of trains that don’t have a second safety-critical member of staff on board.

Meanwhile, asecond strike on East Midlands Train saw workers walk out for “pay and workplace justice” last Saturday.

The RMT union members were “rock solid, united and determined” against attacks from rail franchise operator Stagecoach.

Workers planned a further strike this Saturday.

And workers on the Caledonian Scottish Sleeper rail service are ready to fight “intolerable pressure on staff” after returning huge votes for action.

The RMT union members voted by over 80 percent for strikes over conditions on the new £150 million train fleet run by outsourcer Serco.

The union said workers are suffering from workplace stress and mental health issues.

Workers said that insufficient staffing levels, insufficient training and unresponsive management have contributed to a “complete breakdown in industrial relations”.

Stanstead fight is off

A strike at Stansted Airport was grounded on Friday of last week as workers voted on a new offer.

The 43 check-in staff, members of the Unite union, are employed by Stobart Aviation Services. They had been due to start a 72-hour strike over pay.

Meanwhile, over 90 fire and rescue workers at Heathrow Airport have voted by 97.6 percent for strikes over pay.

The Unite union members were set to walk out next Monday and Tuesday.

In a separate dispute, Unite suspended a planned strike by 4,000 Heathrow airport workers.

Bosses put forward a new pay offer after talks at conciliation service Acas.

Pedaling for Palestine

A 30-mile Big Ride for Palestine, involving up to 200 cyclists, took place in London last Saturday.

The Big Ride has been an annual event for the past 5 years, combining a show of solidarity with raising funds for Palestinian charities.

As the riders passed throughLondon'shigh streets, they were heartened by the positive response they met everywhere. It demonstrates that the media campaign against criticism of Israel has not dampened support for the Palestinian cause.

The ride was live-streamed to Gaza. And it was stressed that such shows of Solidarity have a strong effect inovercoming feelingsof isolation and raise awarenessin Palestine that the world is watching.

Ben Morris

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