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Workers at three West Midlands colleges fight back for better pay

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Issue 2649
Standing firm in Wolverhampton
Standing firm in Wolverhampton (Pic: Martin Lynch)

Workers at three West Midlands colleges are striking this week over pay. UCU union members at City of Wolverhampton College began a three-day strike on Monday.

Those at the Warwickshire College Group began a two-day walkout on the same day, and union members at Coventry College started a three-day strike on Tuesday.

Workers are fighting a 25 percent real terms pay loss over a decade and excessive workloads.

UCU members at five colleges struck last month, following walkouts at 12 colleges at the end of January and at six colleges last November. The action has seen more people join the union.

Strikers planned a mass protest on Wednesday.

Picket lines were at all three sites at the City of Wolverhampton College, at seven sites at the Warwickshire College Group and at two sites at Coventry.

Some 92 percent of union members who voted at Coventry College backed strikes, 91 percent at City of Wolverhampton College and 76 percent at the Warwickshire College Group.

Protest—assemble 12 noon, 10 April, Lady Godiva statue, Coventry

Action against academies

NEU union members at three East Sussex schools have voted for strikes to stop them being turned into academies. Workers at Peacehaven Heights Primary School, Telscombe Cliffs School and Peacehaven Community School plan to walk out after Easter.

Parents at the schools are also campaigning to stop them being handed over to a private firm.

Parent Amanda said academies “exclude children more and take resources away from the front line to fund excessive chief executive salaries”.

She added, “The schools would no longer be accountable to the local community.”

The NEU said the county council has refused to confirm the name of the private company that could take over the running of the schools. It had submitted Freedom of Information requests but the council cited “commercial confidentiality” and refused to disclose the information.

Phil Clarke is secretary of the Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NEU. He said, “After nearly 20 years of the academy programme there is no evidence they improve standards.

“There is plenty of evidence they invite excessive management pay, high exclusion rates and damage special education needs provision.”

Fighting crushing redundancies 

GMB union members at Halley Academy in south east London struck on Thursday of last week against redundancies.

The Leigh Academy Trust which runs the school, has served redundancy notices on 19 out of 28 teaching assistants (TAs).

This would leave only nine to support around 160 students, including those with special educational needs and disabilities.Bosses are paying the CEO a salary that would pay for 12 TAs.

The school has told TAs to leave the workplace straight away, without putting into place support for vulnerable students.

Campaigning plans are being discussed during the Easter break and NEU and Unison union members are balloting.

Andy Reid

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