There were socially-distanced picket lines at Shrewsbury Colleges Group on Tuesday as workers began a two-day strike to defend NEU union rep John Boken.
John was targeted by bosses after raising complaints about racism. He is now waiting for the result of an appeal against a final warning given to him.
NEU rep Jean Evanson was picketing on Tuesday. “Quite a few students are not going in because their classes are cancelled as teachers are on strike,” she told Socialist Worker.
“We’ve had very good conversations with students, who want to know more about the dispute. Young people understand injustice and are pleased to see we are fighting.”
The walkout saw pickets at all three sites at the college and follows a series of solid strikes in defence of John.
Many workers know his victimisation is part of a wider pattern of attacks on NEU reps—and that his case matters for all union members. Over 1,200 people have signed a petition in defence of John.
“We were hoping to get a quick decision after John’s appeal on Monday,” said Jean. “But we’ve been told we won’t have a decision until Thursday, so it means more stress.
“But we are sending a very strong message that they need to remove the final warning and remove the charge of gross misconduct.”
Workers at Leaways Special school in Hackney, east London, began a two‑day strike on Tuesday. The walkout is the latest action in a fight to defend students’ conditions and the rights of workers to organise.
Two NEU union reps have been victimised and sacked. NEU members held a two-day strike earlier this month following six days of strikes before Christmas.
The bosses’ Universities UK group said the government should not delay plans for a phased return of students next month.
The union said this puts student and staff safety at risk.
UCU members at the union’s annual congress this year voted to oppose a return to face to face teaching. They also backed a motion calling on the union to instruct members not to enter unsafe workplaces.
Management has agreed to further talks, but the issue is not settled.
News in brief from workers' struggles
Outsourced cleaners are fighting back
Organise to finish fascist Tommy Robinson