Socialist Worker

Schools and councils round-up: strikes over ‘bullying,’ academies and more

Issue No. 2687

Workers at St Catherines Catholic School for Girls on strike last November

Workers at St Catherine's Catholic School for Girls on strike last November


Workers at St Catherine’s Catholic School for Girls in south east London resumed their strikes this week with a three-day walkout from Tuesday.

NEU union members at the Bexleyheath school have held a strong campaign of strikes since 30 October in a row about bullying.

Head Yvonne Connolly is taking “a leave of absence”. Workers, parents and former students had signed two votes of no confidence in her.

But workers say a “culture of fear” remains.

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Newham school staff set to strike to stop academies

NEU union members at two east London schools were set to start a two-day strike on Wednesday.

Workers at St Angela’s secondary school and St Michael’s primary school in Newham are resisting plans to turn the schools into academies. They plan three-day strikes from next Tuesday.

NEU members at St Bonaventure’s are balloting for strikes over the same issue. Workers at St Angela’s and St Michael’s struck against the plan last month.

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Tower Hamlets workers up for fight over contracts

Local government and school workers in east London are taking their fight against a raft of attacks directly to the council this week.

Workers in the GMB, Unison, Unite and NEU unions were due to lobby Labour-run Tower Hamlets council on Wednesday.

Bosses are threatening to sack and re-engage thousands of workers on worse contracts.

It plans to slash severance pay, lower entry pay for some grades, reduce the flexi time scheme, cut travel allowance and reduce night work supplements.

Workers overwhelmingly rejected the “Tower Rewards” scheme in consultative ballots.

Unions should push for strike ballots and build the fightback.


Dispute ends in Hackney with gains for workers

A long-running dispute between Hackney council in east London and school bus staff has ended.

Workers won increased pay and a commitment to make agency roles permanent.

The 38 Unite union members, who are drivers and passenger escorts on school buses for children with disabilities, held a series of strikes during last year.

Other commitments include yearly lump sum payments which will be backdated to April 2019.


Lancashire lifeguards refuse to let their pay take a plunge

Lifeguards in Lancashire have begun a series of strikes against bosses’ plans to slash their pay by up to £3,000 a year.

Unite union members at Blackburn and Darwen leisure centres struck last Saturday after council bosses carried out a job reevaluation.

This sees 14 life guards keep their jobs on a lower grade. They plan further strikes on 14, 18, 21, 25 and 28 January.

Unite regional officer Tanya Sweeney said, “The reality is that some of our members are being asked to work for less pay.

“This is a group of workers who do an incredible job of keeping people safe.

“The lifeguard role was evaluated ten years ago and the job has not changed, so cutting pay is unjust.”


Sandwell bins action is off

The GMB union suspended a bin workers’ walkout in Sandwell, the West Midlands, after last ditch talks.

Outsourcer Serco has agreed suspend plans to slash the number of bin collections—which the union said threatened worse health and safety. Serco and GMB have agreed to talks for the next three months.


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