Socialist Worker

Hackney school strike + Somerset victory after strike move on Covid-19 safety

Issue No. 2742

Striking at Colvestone

Striking at Colvestone (Pic: Unite London and Eastern)

Unite union members at two east London schools held three-day strikes last week in a row over jobs. Workers walked out from Wednesday at Colvestone primary school and the Thomas Fairchild community school in Hackneywhere they were joined by NEU union members.

They are angry at a reorganisation plan that puts over 18 jobs at risk. Bosses have refused to properly negotiate over the plan. 

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said the cuts are “unnecessary”. He said the union’s message to the schools is, “Don’t cut now.” 

“Let us see where we are after the summer,” he said.

Nobody should be made redundant in the middle of a pandemic. 

Moreover there are solutions to falling rolls which is said to be the reason for the cuts. These include setting up inclusion units and resource centres in school buildings.

There also needs to be a wider fight for funding which is going to become ever more important in the next few months.

Some 32 Unite members who take disabled children to and from school in Hackney also struck last week over health and safety issues.

Jane Bassett

Somerset victory after strike move on Covid-19 safety

A group of school workers in North Somerset won a victory over Covid safety earlier this month. Safety fears led to NEU union members raising the possibility of taking action—and they won vaccines as a result.

One NEU member told Socialist Worker, “I was chatting to a friend who works at a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in a neighbouring county. I was asked if we had been invited to be vaccinated, as I work in a PRU.

“I instantly emailed my head to ask why staff in neighbouring counties were being offered the vaccine and we weren’t. The head contacted the local authority and was ‘stonewalled’ for over ten days.

“It turned out that the local commissioning group had decided staff at special schools and alternative provision would be invited to be vaccinated. But our school was missed off the list.”

The worker said staff at the school had felt “highly anxious about the chances of catching Covid”. And NEU members there were “outraged” at not receiving the vaccine.

“We met and members felt strongly enough to consider strikes,” they said. “The NEU district officer contacted the director of public health to query this and advise the local authority of our willingness to strike.

“Unison union members joined in once alerted. Suddenly we were offered the vaccine. Potentially my friend and colleague has saved the life of us and our families.

“I’m proud to be in a union and see the strength, power and beauty of people uniting for a common cause.”

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