Staff at Central Foundation Girls’ School in Bow took their first day of action on Wednesday 25th April which was called by the NUT and supported by Unison after talks of pay and conditions fell through.
The school staff is being threatened with redundancies and changing support staff from all year contracts to term-time only ones which means a cut in pay and the support they give. There’s also a concern about teachers’ non-classroom time being cut meaning less time to mark work, see parents or give one-to-one tuition.
This days strike won a satisfying settlement over the compulsory redundancies and pay cuts which were threatened.
The staff and teachers struck for a second time on Friday 11th May over class-room time being cut which was still outstanding.
Following the second day of action the management said that teacher’s workload will be reviewed with all new proposals going to the union before being implemented. Teaching staff will have to increase their teaching load but by half of what the management initially wanted and this will also be reviewed next year.
By all the staff uniting and striking together they managed to achieve a victory and prove to the management that they do have the power to stop these changes going through. They now must maintain this strength to ensure the reviews do happen and the changes don’t go through un-noticed.
Staff will maintain the strike committee as a joint-union committee meeting once every half term. This will oversee the proposed changes to working structures and develop closer links between ordinary union members in Unison and NUT.
Playing unions off against each other is a favourite tactic of headteachers up and down the country. Whether they are trying to push through academisation or undermine hard-fought working conditions, this action shows union members that unity is the key to victory.
Students can also play our part in supporting struggles by our teachers. By organising boycotts, petitions and leafletting we can add dramatically to the pressure on school management. School bosses can always negotiate with trade union leaders, but the last thing they want is active, political students prepared to challenge their lying propaganda.
If there’s a strike at your school, get in touch and see the resources section for advice on organising within schools and colleges.