Socialist Worker

Strikes get Huddersfield union rep reinstated as school fights grow

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2754

Parents and supporters at Moulsecoomb primary in Brighton blocked an academy boss

Parents and supporters at Moulsecoomb primary in Brighton blocked an academy boss


Suspended NEU union rep Louise Lewis has been reinstated following a series of strikes at North Huddersfield Trust School.

As a number of NEU reps face victimisation the result shows that fighting back can win. Louise was suspended on 1 October last year after raising concerns about coronavirus health and safety.

Union members at the school have held four days of strikes to demand her reinstatement. They planned further action, which was cancelled following the victory.

Mike Foster from Huddersfield Trades Council said the result is “a complete vindication of the NEU’s position in mobilising its members to show solidarity”.

He called for an “independent inquiry” into why head teacher Andrew Fell “spent so long pursuing a dedicated teacher and union rep”.

In another sign of the fightback, parents and supporters at Moulsecoomb Primary in Brighton physically prevented the CEO of the Pioneer Academy chain from entering the building.

There has been a long battle against plans for an academy.

Meanwhile school workers across Britain are fighting an onslaught of attacks on their conditions and right to organise.

NEU members at Oaks Park School in Redbridge, east London, are fighting to defend union rep Keiran Mahon. Bosses sacked Keiran after he encouraged ­workers to use Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act to protect their safety. The union had accused bosses of “bullying” workers in January by refusing to let them work from home.

It said workers were forced to deliver online lessons in school, even if they were pregnant or disabled.

A campaign forced the school to change its position.

But now activists are being targeted. NEU members at the school voted in favour of strikes to defend Keiran in an indicative ballot. The union has called a rally on Wednesday 19 May.

Sickness

NEU members at Beal High School, also in Redbridge, have won an important victory over a ­two-tier sickness policy. They heard this week that management has given in to all their demands.

This follows a strike last week, a two-day walkout the previous week and a one-day strike last month.

All staff will now be included in a nationally-agreed sick pay scheme. Previously those employed after 2016 were excluded from it.

Workers at Leaways school in Hackney, east London, began a two-day strike on Tuesday following several walkouts to defend their union rep.

Ian Forsythe was sacked after workers started organising in the NEU.

School staff, and local ­campaigners, are determined to stop the union-busting campaign by Kedleston, which runs the school. They have called a solidarity protest on Saturday 22 May.

Picketing at Nottingham Academy

Picketing at Nottingham Academy (Pic: Richard Buckwell)


Meanwhile, NASUWT union members at a school in Cheltenham are staging strikes over conditions and the head’s management style.

Staff at Greatfield Park Primary School were to begin a three-day strike on Tuesday, after a two-day walkout last week.

Hackney special school strikers demand improvements for workers and students
Hackney special school strikers demand improvements for workers and students
  Read More

Workers at Peacehaven Heights Primary School in Sussex struck on Wednesday of last week against a plan to turn the school into an academy.

Parents joined NEU union members for a protest against the plan. Placards read, “Step away from our school” and, “We say no to greed.”

An Interim Executive Board has run the school since 2019. It wants to hand the school over to the Step academy trust. It said it would consult on the plan.

But campaigners say it made a number of decisions without consulting parents.

Students at the school have also held protests.

Parent Caroline Gridley said the council is “not listening” to teachers”.

She added that the council and the board “make decisions that are not in the interests of our children.”

And at Nottingham Academy, 20 strikers joined a picket line on Tuesday of this week. NEU union members there are fighting reorganisation plans.

The union said this would mean substantial and disruptive changes to their job roles.

Sheena Wheatley from Nottingham NEU said, “Management have behaved callously forcing through yet another reorganisation and forcing staff to apply for their own jobs.”

Messages of support for Keiran Mahon’s reinstatement to [email protected] Messages of support for Moulsecoomb to [email protected] Leaways petition here and here

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