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Reports round-up: London schools strikes take on United Learning bosses

Workers are taking on outsourcing, pay, redundancies, workload and a host of other issues
Issue 2807
A group of strikers gather in front of an NEU banner on a picket line. They're smiling and looking at the camera

Workers at Walthamstow Primary Academy delivered a lesson in how to win

Workers at two London schools are taking on multi-academy trust United Learning—and strikes are already scoring important victories. NEU union members at Walthamstow Primary Academy, in east London, have won major concessions after 17 days of solid strikes. Initially the workers put forward 49 issues related to workload, bullying, equality and more.

All of those issues except pay have been resolved. It’s a stunning victory, and shows that hard‑hitting action works. And it’s an example that workers at Holland Park School in west London will be looking to. There, teachers and support staff are striking for three days from Tuesday this week.

They are taking action against “the obscure and undemocratic actions of the governing body”. Workers don’t want the school to join United Learning. The teachers said, “We want to be at school teaching and supporting our students. Some of our members are working to support our Send students through their examinations.

“Any insinuation that we don’t have the students’ best interests at heart is a falsehood and is insulting to all members of staff who are making this very difficult choice.”

Parents and teachers are concerned that there hasn’t been a consultation into the proposals. And the governors chose not to accept the staff’s invitation to join their meeting on Monday. Walthamstow Primary Academy workers have shown how to fight back. Now Holland Park workers should keep striking until they can claim complete success.

East London fightback

The school strike wave across Walthamstow, east London, continues. Workers at Hornbeam Academy are balloting over restructures and redundancies.

Workers at Gwyn Jones Primary School are balloting against redundancies, pay loss and workload. And at Our Lady and St George, NEU members are balloting against a planned restructure.

If workers linked up their disputes, it could see hundreds of workers walk out together across the borough.United action can make bosses keen to sit at the negotiating table.

Connaught cleaners victorious

Following five days of strikes, cleaners at Connaught School for Girls in Leytonstone, east London, will not be outsourced to a firm that has worse terms and conditions.

The cleaners would have been forced to cut working weeks from 52 to 43, lose their union recognition and their annual pay rate. Workers also won some protections over future outsourcing.

The cleaners, members of the NEU union, would also have lost access to the local government pension scheme. But this shameless attack on some of the lowest paid workers at the school was beaten back by workers’ action.

Sun workers rise up against poor pay

Pay strikes are set for Britain’s only ink manufacturer, Sun Chemical. They could impact the printing of the Daily Mail as well as production for Amcor, Scheizwer and Multi-Colour Corp.

Nearly 200 Sun Chemical employees, members of the Unite union, plan to strike over a meagre 3 percent pay offer. An overtime ban is set to begin next Monday followed by a 24-hour strike next Thursday, 9 June at seven sites.

Fishing for more than 2 percent

Strikes by around 80 workers at Marine Scotland began last week over pay. The Scottish government imposed a 2 percent pay rise for 2021. Ministers are now refusing to reopen talks.

Strikes on Marine Protection Vessels Hirta took place on Thursday and Friday last week and were set for the vessel Jura on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

The vessels are normally based at Aberdeen harbour. Marine Scotland is responsible for ensuring that fishing fleets comply with the law when catching fish.

Fawley action could hit petrol supplies

Pay strikes at Exxon’s Fawley refinery near Southampton are set to escalate in June, potentially hitting petrol supply at some of Britain’s petrol stations.

Around 100 workers, who make up a third of the contractors at the Fawley Refinery, struck for three days in April and May over a 2.5 percent pay offer and a lack of sick pay.

Fresh strikes are now scheduled for 9, 10, 16, 17 and 20 June. As some workers provide safety critical services, strikes could lead to shutdowns across the plant.

Hinkley Point pond liners in jeopardy

Workers at Darchem Engineering in Stockton on Tees are set for strikes over pay. Their action could hit work at Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.

Darchem Engineering manufactures industrial pond liners for Hinkley Point as part of a £200 million contract. Welders’ pay has increased by over £2 an hour but the company has refused to give a similar increase to the platers and sheet metal workers.

Unite union members plan to begin an overtime ban next Monday. This is scheduled to be followed by three 48-hour strikes beginning on Monday 13 June, Monday 20 June and Monday 27 June.

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