Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2910

Industrial round-up: Victory for Waltham Forest school teachers

NEU ballots, victory in Waltham Forest, Bus drivers walkout plus refuse ballot in Redbridge
Issue 2910
NEU strikes were strong last year when organised nationally (Picture: Guy Smallman)

NEU strikes were strongest last year when organised nationally (Picture: Guy Smallman)

NEU union members at Belmont Park School in Waltham Forest, east London have won a “complete victory” after they struck last week over working conditions.

After going on strike for one day, management conceded to all of their demands.

Management has been employing and paying teachers on a casual basis, meaning staff don’t know if they will be paid for permanent responsibilities.

But after striking, the teachers have won improvements in workload, a formal negotiation process and permanent teacher learning responsibility payments.

Pablo, a teacher in Waltham Forest, said that permanent teacher learning responsibility payments were “unprecedented” and it was a “complete victory”.


South London schools battle after closure threat

Three schools in Lambeth, south London, are balloting to strike after threats of mergers and closure.

In the indicative ballots, St Saviour’s school had a 100 percent yes vote and a 90 percent turnout.

Holy Trinity School had a 100 percent yes vote with a 100 percent turnout and St John’s Angell Town had a 100 percent yes vote on 83 percent turnout.

Workers want to stop closures and compulsory redundancies. The indicative ballots showed an overwhelming mood for hard-hitting action.

Merger and closure is hitting schools in many parts of Britain.

Schools receive funding based on the number of students they have, not their capacity, so empty places create a financial strain.

And eight of the ten council areas with the largest proportions of spare places are London boroughs.

It’s a process happening in Hackney, east London, as the local council forces six primary schools in Hackney to close or merge.

Tory cuts imposed by local councils mean that when schools don’t have a sufficient number of students they are forced to close. Instead they could shift to smaller classes.


Action over decade of cuts

School workers at Ballard School in New Milton, near Bournemouth were set to strike this week over pay.

They were set to strike for five days in a row from Thursday of this week.

Following a ballot of its members, 84 percent voted for strike with a turnout of 81 percent.

Pay has fallen behind inflation significantly over the past ten years while the school has around £8 million in reserves.

In March, the school implemented a 4 percent pay uplift for staff. But this does not tackle the historic real term pay cuts staff have faced.


Bus walkout in Liverpool

Nearly 500 bus drivers across Merseyside are set to strike on Monday and Tuesday next week after they rejected a pay offer from their employer, Stagecoach.

Workers have rejected an offer despite their Unite union describing it as one “that recognises their hard work and current low pay”.

Throwing out this deal shows an appetite among rank and file activists for hard-hitting action to win a clear victory.

The drivers are unhappy that their pay rates are substantially below those of drivers at other bus companies in the region.

Unite called off the strike at the start of June as a “goodwill gesture”.

But this rejection of the bosses’ offer shows that such a move was a mistake. There is no goodwill from Stagecoach.


Redbridge council bin workers in a fightback

Refuse workers in Redbridge, east London, are balloting to strike after the council has overseen a worsening of work conditions.

The workers, in the Unite union, are employed by Redbridge Civic Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the council.

Yet they have much worse work conditions than other council-employed workers.

Workers consistently start and finish late due to vehicles breaking down and not being repaired.

Because of this, they are forced to do an extra hour of work daily.

This is despite contracts saying this would happen only in “exceptional circumstances”. And they are pressured to work overtime every weekend.

Also, sick pay is much lower than for Redbridge council workers—just ten days, compared to six months.

If the ballot is successful, the first round of strikes will take place in the polling week of the general election.

The current leader of the council, Jas Athwal, is currently standing to be the next Labour MP in Ilford South.

Athwal was also responsible for setting up Redbridge Civic Services in 2019 and, until last month, sat on its board before resigning to concentrate on his election campaign.

The ballot closes on Monday of this week. Taking action around and if necessary beyond the election date would rightly put the workers’ case in the forefront of the politicians’ minds.


Time for a steel strike

Steel workers in Port Talbot, south Wales, rallied on Monday on the eve of their industrial action over mass job losses.

Around 1,500 Tata workers based in Port Talbot and Llanwern began working to rule as well as starting a continuous overtime ban from Tuesday.

The Unite union says, “Strikes will be scheduled if the company does not row back on its plans.”

But it has drawn back from calling a walkout. A sustained strike would have put the issue of the 2,800 job cuts at the centre of the election debate.

Tata bosses say they won’t listen to whoever forms the next government.

The company has vowed to press ahead with plans to “return to profitability” no matter what happens on 4 July. Strikes can make them think again.


A united fight is the best way to win on guards’ pay

Some 200 PCS union members working as security guards in jobcentres across Britain began a seven-day strike over pay on Monday this week.

Employer G4S, which turns over billions of pounds every year, pays only the minimum wage.

PCS union officials demand that G4S gets back round the table and starts to meaningfully address the low pay experienced by this group of workers.

Secruity workers in the GMB union also went back to the picket lines on Monday.

G4S bosses have offered free parking to all workers who scab and go to work to try to break the strike.

The GMB members plan to strike until Sunday of this week and then head back to work next Monday.

Then they plan to strike again from 1 July for a week followed by a week back and then out again from 15 July for a week.

They will continue this week-on and week-off strike pattern until August.

To see the list of PCS picket lines to visit across England go to tinyurl.com/PCSJobCentre

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