Teachers and support staff at Valentine Primary School, members of the National Education Union (NEU), are celebrating an important victory following strike action. Union members reached an agreement with Southampton’s Labour-run city council for a two-year freeze on cuts.
This report is from local NSSN supporters who have been prominent in giving solidarity to striking teachers and support staff alongside campaigning and parents.
“A united campaign of school staff, the NEU, the head teacher, the senior leadership team, governors and parents, stood solidly together over months of organising. We fought to ensure the damaging cutbacks were not inflicted through staff cuts – with the inevitable knock-on effect on those remaining in their jobs and their ability to meet the needs of the children.
A city-wide campaign under the banner of Southampton Fair Funding for All Schools, in which local NSSN supporters have played a leading role, has organised rallies, demonstrations, public meetings, council lobbies, petitioning, and school-gate leafleting across Southampton. The NEU strike action at Valentine has put school funding on the top of the council agenda.
Schools are at a breaking point, and the fight shown at Valentine Primary must be repeated across the country.
The schools funding crisis has not gone away. The Tory government’s brutal austerity measures bear down on schools. Nationally, pupil funding has been slashed by 8%.
In Southampton, 64 out of 64 schools have had their budgets cut! The impact means one school in Southampton is sacking its entire team of teaching assistants.
Southampton’s pupil referral centre, which supports excluded children, is cutting its places. This will undermine support to some of our most vulnerable children and add extra pressures back into mainstream schools.
As wider council services are cut, like social services, youth services and child and adolescent mental health services, underfunded schools are being left to pick up the pieces as the damaging impact of austerity and growing child poverty hits working-class communities hard.
The NEU has welcomed the decision of Southampton Council to use its powers to avert cuts. This approach should be extended to all schools in in the city. A further 13 are in deficit with those remaining running out of reserves and making cuts. The situation is only getting worse.
But this victory does show that school cuts can be fought. It shows that local councils, when pushed, can protect school budgets. Moreover, if linked to a wider campaign bringing together teaching unions, parents and local councils, backed up with national strike action, the potential exists for a decisive victory – to restore school funding – against this divided and hated lame Tory government. Such a fight could draw in support to oppose all council cuts.
It is shameful that Southampton’s right-wing, Blairite Labour council, instead of leading this fight, has been demanding that schools carry out cuts. This goes alongside closing care homes and cutting Sure Start and social care budgets.”
Get your trade union branch or trades council to affiliate to the NSSN – it only costs £50. Already affiliated? Please think about renewing it. Also, many of our supporters pay a few pounds a month. You can set up a similar standing order to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’, HSBC – sort code 40-06-41, account number 90143790. Our address is NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE
Dates for your diaries:
- 2019 NSSN Conference – 11am-4.30pm Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL – Saturday July 6th. Please use this letter in your union and trades council to help us finance the conference and affiliate to the NSSN Facebook event
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Massive vote for action on pay, but anti-union laws will block a strike (30 Apr) – PCS members in the civil service have voted by four to one in favour of strike action and action short of strike over pay, however, the ballot turnout of 47.7%, while over 6% higher than in 2018, is still just under 3,000 votes short of reaching the required 50% threshold read more
Great support for first day of Interserve FCO strike (1 May) – A May Day strike by PCS members working for outsourcer Interserve at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has received strong support from our NEC, politicians and the labour movement. Our members are striking for 2 days following the company’s refusal to negotiate on redundancies, contractual changes to pay dates, and attacks on holiday pay and sick pay. Members are angered by Interserve for making workers redundant, creating more work for those who remain, imposing detrimental changes to terms and conditions and refusing to negotiate with PCS reps. 100% of members are on strike today and the picket line outside the FCO building in London was well supported with visits by MPs Chris Stephens (PCS parliamentary group chair) and Hugh Gaffney, PCS acting president Fran Heathcote, PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh, PCS NEC members, PCS branch reps, Hackney Labour party, regional TUC and a UCU member who refused to cross the line. There was also a lot of public interest and generous donations. The strikers are also taking part in the annual May Day march and rally, along with members from Ealing tax office, who recently held a series of walkouts to oppose the closure of their office. PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Workers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are striking because they will not stand by while a failing company like Interserve attacks their terms and conditions and at the same time, refuses to negotiate with their union…”
Urge your MP to sign early day motion 2346 in support of the strike which calls on ministers to intervene to secure jobs and to seriously consider bringing lnterserve contracts back in-house as a priority.
Support the Swindon Honda workers – watch video of the March 30th demonstration against the planned closure of the plant
Unite seeks assurances on investment and job security for Bombardier employees in Northern Ireland (2 May) – Union expresses hope that any prospective new owner will commit to local production and bring forward expanded investment. Jackie Pollock, Unite Regional Secretary in Ireland, responded to news that Bombardier was to sell its Aerostructures division globally which includes all five production sites in Northern Ireland. “Today’s announcement will come as a shock to the entire Bombardier workforce in Northern Ireland. Many of the company’s 3,600 employees will be left asking what this will mean for their long-term future of their jobs. Unite will be seeking assurances from Bombardier and the government around this process. It doesn’t matter whose name is above the gate – what matters is that we safeguard jobs and skills in this critical industry. The UK government must stand ready to ensure the retention of jobs and skills at these sites, Bombardier is simply too important to the Northern Ireland economy to allow anything less” read more
Sandwell council staff win major wage rise as council backs down in pay dispute (1 May) – Customer service assistants employed by Sandwell council have secured a substantial wage rise after the council backed down in a pay dispute over job grading. The 14 members of Unite were due to begin industrial action, resulting in major disruption to council services, on Friday 10 May. The dispute was a result of a botched job evaluation process that did not take into account the work the customer service assistants undertook. However the industrial action has now been called off after Sandwell council made a suitable offer to members that resolve their concerns. The workers have been re-graded as of today (1 May). The re-grading means that the workers who earn between £19,000 – £20,000 a year will eventually see their pay increase by £5,000 per annum read more
Mitie tensions mount in Sellafield dispute as fresh strike action set to go ahead (1 May) – Unite has reiterated that its members employed by troubled outsourcing giant Mitie on the Sellafield contract, will receive the union’s 100 per cent support, after being harassed and spied upon while taking part in lawful industrial action. The workers, who began strike action last week in a dispute over pay, report that the strike is totally solid, but the actions of Mitie’s management have been totally reprehensible. The 180 Unite members also report that Mitie’s local management has been attempting to intimidate strikers. The harassment includes: management being posted on all gates across the Sellafield site to spy on pickets and demonstrators. On one gate Mitie’s management attempted to interfere with the pickets and allegations that Mitie’s management taking photographs and videos of the pickets read more
Rochdale housing workers to vote for strike action over low pay (1 May) – Members of Unite working in a Rochdale housing association are to be balloted for strike action in a dispute over low pay. The 170 plus members of Unite, employed by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), have seen their pay cut by 21.7 per cent in recent years, as a result of a series of pay freezes and below inflation pay increases. The housing association was hived off from Rochdale council and manages 13,500 homes. Unite members have rejected a below inflation pay offer of two per cent. However, rather than return to the negotiating table RBH instead imposed the pay offer on the staff, which has caused widespread anger and damaged industrial relations. Workers will begin balloting for industrial action, including strike action on Wednesday 8 May and the ballot will close on Wednesday 29 May. If the membership votes for industrial action, strikes could begin in June read more
Essar Stanlow refinery strike threat lifted after Unite secures no compulsory redundancy guarantee (30 April) – The threat of strike action at Essar Oil’s Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port over potential jobs losses has been lifted Unite said today (Tuesday 30 April) after bosses agreed to guarantee no compulsory redundancies to Unite members. The move came after 97.7 per cent of Unite members voted overwhelmingly for strike action on a turnout of 93.3 per cent in an industrial action ballot. Unite had been pressing Essar to “guarantee no compulsory redundancies” and commit to continuity of employment for its members after Shell announced a decision to decommission the Shell Higher Olefins Plant (SHOP) and Alcohols units, putting 155 workers at risk read more
Southampton hospital security staff suspend strike action to vote on a new pay and sick pay offer (30 April) – Security staff at Southampton General Hospital, who have been attacked in the A&E department, have suspended a 48 hour strike due to start on Friday (3 May), while they vote on a new pay and sick pay offer. Unite said today (Tuesday 30 April) that the 21 security staff will be balloted on a new offer covering pay and sick pay conditions. This follows talks yesterday (Monday 29 April) with the employer Mitie Security Ltd. The ballot will close on Friday 17 May read more
‘Heavy – handed’ management provokes strike at Luton Airport (30 April) – Security guards employed by London Luton Airport will take 13 days of strike action starting this Wednesday (1 May) in a dispute over ‘heavy – handed’ changes to working time. London Luton Airport is attempting to push through a new shift pattern affecting around 120 security guards which means the workforce will have to work an extra 15 days a year. The security guards responsible for searches, baggage checks and general security across the airport will strike from Wednesday 1 May at 04:30 until Sunday 5 May at 20:59 and will take further action from Tuesday 7 May at 04:30 until Monday 13 May at 20:59. 95 per cent of the workers who took part in the ballot voted for strike action read more
Woolwich Ferry staff to strike for 10 days in Groundhog Day safety dispute, says Unite (29 April) – Workers, who operate the Woolwich Ferry used by an estimated 2.6 million passengers a year, are to strike for 10 days in a dispute over pay, health & safety, and lack of staffing. The 31 workers, members of Unite who are employed by Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd, voted unanimously for strike action. The 24 hour strike dates are: 17, 20, 24, 28, and 31 May. This will be followed by five days in June on 3, 7, 10, 14 and 17 June. All stoppages will start at 00:01. The key issues in the dispute are the refusal to grant a six per cent pay increase for the year starting January 2019; the imposition of new duties; failure to deal with safety concerns; and lack of an adequate number of staff to operate the service. Two years ago, there was an acrimonious and long-running dispute at the ferry with the same employer, which runs the service on behalf of Transport for London (TfL), over a bullying culture and health & safety issues. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The travelling public, who use the ferry, may well think Groundhog Day has arrived with yet another dispute with the management at Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd…” read more
Bromley library workers to be balloted for strike action in pay dispute (29 April) – Bromley library workers are being balloted for strike action in the first stage of the campaign to give a big pay boost to workers employed by social enterprise leisure services’ giant Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL). The 45 library staff, members of Unite who are employed by GLL, will be balloted from 7 May as part of the pay campaign and also on issues specifically relating to the running of Bromley’s 14 libraries. The ballot closes on 22 May. Unite is seeking a six per cent increase in basic pay from April 2019 for its hundreds of members working for GLL in more than 140 leisure centres and libraries in 16 London boroughs, as well as in Belfast. The Bromley dispute also relates to GLL bosses not filling vacant posts; asking staff to be managers without paying the proper rate for the job; and failing to pay wages owed. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The Bromley ballot is the first stage in our campaign to get pay justice across the GLL contracts in 16 London boroughs and in Belfast…” read more
‘Skeletons in closet’ protest at HS2 Euston station site (26 April) – Unite, the construction union, today (Friday 26 April) held a demonstration at the troubled HS2, Costain/Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV) at Euston, as concerns grow about the treatment of the workforce. The Unite demonstrators, some of whom were dressed as skeletons, were asking the question what other skeletons has CSJV got in its closet? Unite has unearthed that workers are being: Underpaid overtime; Had the wrong holiday entitlement; Are forced to operate via umbrella companies; Were not covered for death and accident benefits read more
Support the strike at Angus council – the strike action includes a ban on overtime and work to rule, will take place from April until late June 2019. The first days of industrial action will take place from 00:01 hours on 8 April 2019 concluding at 23:59 hours on 12th April 2019. A series of 48 hour stoppages will commence at 00:01 hours on:
- 15, 22, 29 April 2019
- 6, 13, 20, 27 May 2019
- 3, 10, 17, 24 June 2019 read more
Over a thousand key London Underground staff to strike over safety-critical cuts (2 May) – TUBE UNION RMT confirmed today that over a thousand key London Underground maintenance and engineering staff will strike for three days in a dispute over the hacking back of train preparation and inspection schedules which the union warns would have a devastating impact on both service reliability and public safety. The announcement follows a nine to one vote for action. Staff will take strike action as follows: Not to book on for any shifts between 07:00 on Friday 17th May until 07:00 Monday 20th May 2019. In addition workers are taking action short of strike in a number of areas around risk assessments , a ban on lone working and a ban on working without valid licences and fire wardens being in place read more
HE employers make final pay offer (1 May) – UNISON’s service group executive will meet on 7 May to decide response and consultation procedures. Higher education employers made a final offer in response to the join unions’ pay claim at the final negotiating meeting yesterday. UNISON will consider its response and how to consult branches when the higher education service group meets on 7 May read more
UK’s biggest academy chain faces vote of no confidence from staff (1 May) – Education unions representing staff at Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) – the largest academy chain in the UK – are today (Wednesday) launching a ballot asking if employees have confidence in the trust’s leadership. The move comes after AET failed to listen to staff concerns over proposed cutbacks and restructuring. The changes will put the wellbeing of children and workers at serious risk, say the unions read more
Hospital catering workers strike on May Day (1 May) – Outsourced Doncaster and Bassetlaw hospital members plan 11 days of strikes in May to win health service pay rise. UNISON members in south Yorkshire are marking May Day with a strike for fair pay today – the first of 11 strike days they have planned throughout the month. The members taking action are around 70 catering staff at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals trust. They were transferred to a private company – facilities management giant Sodexo – in 2017 and are striking against the company’s refusal to pay the Agenda for Change pay rise agreed last year for health staff employed by the NHS read more
Support the striking Birmingham homecare workers – Please send messages of support and donations to Unison Birmingham branch, 46 The Priory Queensway Birmingham B4 7LR. Email [email protected] Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/birminghamunison/
Residents must not pay for Grenfell-style cladding removal, union says (26 April) – The cost of removing dangerous flammable must not fall onto building residents, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said. The government must fund residents’ removal costs until those responsible can be held accountable. Nearly two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, the same flammable cladding covers a total of 434 residential buildings. Dangerous cladding has been removed from just 29% of social housing blocks and 6% of private residential blocks read more
Further strikes and ballots at London colleges this week (29 April) – UCU members at Lambeth College and New City College will be on strike this week as industrial action ballots open elsewhere in the capital in the fight for better pay and conditions. Staff at Lambeth College are on strike today, tomorrow and Wednesday. They will be on picket lines at the main entrances to the Clapham site on Clapham Common Southside and on Brixton Hill at the Brixton site from 8am tomorrow and Wednesday. They will be joined on strike tomorrow by their colleagues at the Poplar and Arbour Square campuses of New City College as they also stage a three-day walkout (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). They will be on picket lines outside the campuses’ main entrances on Poplar High Street and Arbour Square. A strike ballot at Croydon College opens today (Monday) and closes on Friday 17 May. Then on Thursday, UCU members at the Hackney campus of New City College will be balloted for strike action in a poll that closes on Tuesday 21 May. The dispute centres on the failure of colleges to make a decent pay offer to staff who have seen the value of their pay decline by 25% over the last decade. UCU said strike action was always a last resort but if the colleges wanted to avoid further disruption they should follow the likes of Capital City College Group and Hugh Baird College who recently agreed pay deals with the union read more
Asda staff revolt over enforced contract change for 60,000 workers (1 May) – Asda staff are in revolt over the proposed imposition of a new ‘flexible’ contract with calls for the company to roll back from the plan in the wake of Sainsbury’s failed takeover. A new survey published by GMB, the union for Asda workers, reveals more than 9 in 10 staff (92%) oppose plans to impose ‘Contract 6’ – which would see workers no longer paid for any breaks and forced to work bank holidays in return for £9.00 per hour pay rates. The contract had previously been voluntary for staff read more
Union reaches agreement with EE on recognition (April 30) – After eight months of discussions with BT and EE the CWU has now finalised a Voluntary Union Recognition Agreement between EE and the CWU for Contact centre frontline employees. News of the breakthrough was revealed today at the union’s Annual Conference in Bournemouth – prompting jubilation amongst EE reps wgo have worked long and hard building membership levels in EE contact centres to the point where the overwhelming desire of staff to be represented by a recognised trade union was indisputable read more
Let our defence of press freedom be Lyra McKee’s lasting memorial (1 May) – Lyra McKee was murdered doing her job, London-based BBC Persian Service journalists are targeted by the Iranian authorities and Turkey has become the world’s biggest jailer of journalists. Join Jeremy Corbyn, Michelle Stanistreet, the TUC’s Mariela Kohon and other colleagues on Friday night to discuss what can be done. The venue is the Free Word Centre, an intimate, central-London auditorium where there will be plenty of time for questions and debate. Friday is World Press Freedom Day and Lyra McKee herself was planning to speak at an NUJ and Amnesty International press freedom event. On Saturday there is a May Day parade in Belfast starting at noon and the NUJ will dedicate participation in the parade to Lyra read more
Donate to the Picturehouse Cinema strike fund: https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/250/picturehousestrike
Addison Lee drivers to strike on 1 May, in first ever strike in company’s history – Addison Lee drivers operating at Luton Airport will go on strike on 1 May for 24 hours demanding a living wage, in the first ever strike of Addison Lee drivers anywhere in the UK. The drivers, who are part of the United Private Hire Drivers Branch (UPHD) of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), will be striking over pay and unfair working conditions. A survey conducted in April by UPHD found that after an increase in the commission Addison Lee takes, the average hourly wage for drivers at Luton Airport working an average of 70 hours a week has fallen to £4.72. Drivers have been protesting for several months against this increase and a hike in vehicle rental costs that were introduced last autumn, but the company has so far been unwilling to negotiate. Consequently, in a recent strike ballot, over 90% of drivers working from Luton Airport voted in favour of industrial action read more
All Wales May Day March and Rally 2019 (hosted by Cardiff Trades Council) – 12pm Saturday May 4th Capitol Centre, Queen Street, Cardiff Facebook event
Celebrate International May Day – Hosted by Coventry TUC – 12pm Saturday May 4th Broadgate, Coventry Facebook event
Blacklisting & Victimisation
Blacklist Support Group financial appeal: the Blacklist support group is desperately short of funds, to continue the incredible work we need more finance, would you please consider making a donation, raise it at your branches and trade councils. Please make cheques payable to Joint sites committee and send to 70 Darnay Rise Chelmsford Essex CM1 4XA. Please forward onto your contacts many thanks Steve Kelly (JSC Treasurer)
Blacklisted t-shirts available at: https://shop.hopenothate.org.uk/component/hikashop/product/78-blacklisted-t-shirt
Union members assaulted at Perfetti Van Melle Bangladesh after calling for an end to child labour read more
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