Solidarity at the chalk face
THE UNISON union strike made last week one of the most exciting I have ever experienced. I called a NUT union meeting on Tuesday, and 40 people turned up to decide our action. There was a fantastic discussion, and an emergency staff meeting was held on Thursday.
On Thursday the Unison members at school set up a picket line at the gates. There were 12 pickets and nine teachers refused to cross-the mood was really upbeat. There was even a walkout of some 50 students who came out of school to support the strikers.
I was so proud of everyone involved, and I know that our show of solidarity has set down the marker for the struggles to come.
ROB STAINSBY, NUT rep Acland Burghley School (personal capacity)
Public rejects privateers plot
LAST WEEK West Dumbartonshire council became the first Scottish Local Authority to reject the Government's privatisation scheme for its schools. Falkirk council is likely to follow suit. The PPP guarantees the developers a 16 percent return on their investment over a 25 to 30 year period, and most of the risks remain with the councils. In other words this is a goldmine for the developers at the expense of the public purse.
Councillors were swayed by strong community opposition to the plans. At one public meeting attended by the leader of the council not one of the 100 parents present was in favour of privatisation!
Connecting with new activists
CONNECT, THE union for professional grades in the telecoms industry, met in Liverpool last week. It was the largest conference for some years with lots of new delegates, reflecting to some degree the growth of union organisation in the telecoms area. While delegates were extremely critical of employers such as BT who have frozen pay, and of possible job loses, they tended to back the executive on contentious issues.
But good motions were passed. One affiliated the union to the Anti Nazi League. Another threatened industrial action if any employer attempted to alter final salary pension schemes. One motion agreed to democratise the union's political fund by giving the conference responsibility for determining where the fund should be spent.
Teachers push sackers back
SHEFFIELD COUNCIL has backed down from its proposals to impose 21 redundancies in September. Teachers facing redundancy will be guaranteed jobs till the end of December. This comes after 46 percent of NUT members voted by a majority of 89 percent to take industrial action in an indicative ballot.
The union still needs to keep up the pressure to ensure that no teachers lose their jobs at any time.