NEU union members at Marple and Cheadle Sixth Form College in Stockport were set to strike on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
About 50 workers struck last Wednesday against the college’s refusal to increase pay for the last two years.
“The college claims they can’t pay up because there’s a deficit,” said NEU regional officer Jason Sharpe. “But that’s due to financial mismanagement, and the large sums spent on consultants.”
“All staff here go above and beyond what’s expected,” said picketer Wendy. “But they’ve chosen not to prioritise staff.” Striker Catherine added, “We should be paid what we deserve.”
Other strikers criticised the “huge payoff” of over £200,000 to the last head. “We’re the ones responsible for all the positive Ofsted results—but we’re being penalised,” said another picketer.
Strikers also have concerns over a coming merger with the Trafford Group. “A post I’d be eligible for in a neighbouring local authority is paying £3,000 a year more than I’m getting here,” explained one picketer.
Workers at Leaways school in Hackney, east London, struck for two days last week. Pickets were supported by Hackney NEU union, Hackney Unison, Hackney Labour Party, Hackney Renters union and others.
Some 90 people joined an online rally addressed by local Labour MP Diane Abbott and Kevin Courtney, NEU joint general secretary.
The dispute started after teachers and support staff began organising and asking for union recognition, and for working conditions and pay on the same basis as others.
They also asked for proper sick pay, which is currently only seven days a year. And they wanted better conditions for the students they teach.
The response of Leaways’ owners, the Kedleston Group, was to sack the NEU rep on trumped-up charges.
Kedleston is a private group that runs a number of special schools across England, and is ultimately owned by the Kerry Group.
This dispute shows what the privatisation of the education system is about.
Kedleston doesn’t want unions because that cuts into their profits that come from public money that should be spent on decent learning conditions.
NEU members plan more strikes on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, and 5, 6, 11, 12, 18 and 19 May.
Members at North Huddersfield Trust school also planned walkouts for Wednesday and Thursday, in defence of victimised rep Louise Lewis.
Meanwhile, NEU members at Peacehaven Heights Primary School in Sussex plan to strike on 5 May against plans to turn the school into an academy.
Reballots have opened the way to bigger struggle