Socialist Worker

Brighton university jobs battle settled + Hackney school strikes + East Sussex academy fight

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2741

UCU members struck in December

UCU members struck in December (Pic: Brighton University UCU)


Workers at Brighton university and their supporters rallied on Monday after the UCU union settled a dispute.

UCU members struck for five days last year after bosses threatened compulsory redundancies in the IT department. They were set for a five-day walkout on Monday.

A statement agreed by the UCU and university bosses said, “The dispute is resolved as the individual concerned is leaving the university voluntarily.”

Most of those affected by the threat to jobs were Unison union members. Mark Abel, UCU chair at Brighton university, said, “We started in the hope that we could fight alongside Unison. We weren’t able to mount a joint fight and it might have been different if we had been able to.”

But he added, “Management wanted the message to go out that resistance is futile. So the fact we achieved a negotiated settlement is really important.

“There are more attacks on jobs in the pipeline. By fighting hard we’ve sent a powerful message.”


East Sussex academy fight

NEU union members at two East Sussex schools could strike over a refusal to delay an academy consultation during lockdown.

Union members plan to ballot for action at Peacehaven Heights and Telscombe Cliffs schools. East Sussex County Council has imposed governing bodies at both schools. The previous governing bodies were sacked after deciding not to hand the schools to a private academy trust in 2019.

The new governing bodies rejected a request from the NEU to delay consultation.

Joint NEU branch secretary Phil Clarke said the council has treated ordinary people “with contempt”. “To press ahead with a consultation when parents can’t even meet in person is inexcusable,” he said.

“We ask again that the council commit to at least waiting until after the pandemic. If they do we would not proceed with calling strikes during this difficult period.”

Any strikes would be caused by the council. And the short-term disruption to education would be far less damaging than a shift to academisation.

As local parent Vicky Hawkins said, the council has “put the interests of academy chains above those of our children”. “Our town council is against this process, our MP is against this process,” she added.

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Hackney school strikes

Two groups of education workers in east London were set to begin three-day strikes from Wednesday of this week.

Teaching support staff in the Unite union were set to walk out at Colvestone primary school and the Thomas Fairchild community school in Hackney. They are resisting plans that put over 18 jobs at risk.

Some 32 workers who take disabled children to and from school were also set to strike over health and safety issues.

 


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