Campaigns in brief

Submitted by Newcastle on 16 July, 2009 - 8:20

Victory on cuts

Parents at Brooke Primary School, in Hackney, East London, have won their campaign against cuts at the school.

Hackney Learning Trust, the contractor which runs Hackney’s schools, had said that £75,000 must be cut, trashing the school’s Numeracy and Reading Recovery provision.

After the campaign, the Learning Trust has “found” some extra money, and the cuts have been stopped.

Reoccupied to stop closure

On Friday 26 June parents of pupils attending Wyndford Primary School in Glasgow re-occupied the school in protest at Glasgow City Council’s plans to press ahead with its closure.

The school had already been occupied by parents throughout the Easter school holidays in the run-up to a vote by the City Council on 23rd April on proposals to shut down a total of 13 primary schools and 11 nurseries.

At its April meeting the Council voted to axe 12 primary schools, including Wyndford, and nine nurseries. With the vote over and done with, the councillors must have assumed that was the end of the matter.

They were wrong.

On the last day of the summer term Wyndford was re-occupied, with parents pledging to remain in the school indefinitely – in order to prevent its demolition, and to force the Council to reverse its decision.

Over the first weekend following the start of the occupation parents scored a victory when contractors sent in by the Council to empty the school buildings left empty-handed. Parents formed a picket line across the school entrance and allowed out the contractors’ vans only after they had checked that they were empty.

On the Monday of the same week two vans turned up to pick up the school safe and photocopier. But parents at the gates sat down on the road in front of the vans, again forcing their drivers to leave empty-handed.

The response from the City Council has not been to meet with the parents – something they have generally avoided ever since the closure was first proposed – but to dismiss the occupation as irrelevant on the grounds that the Council’s decision was final.

The school is one of the few remaining community facilities in Wyndford, whereas the school which children are expected to start attending in August is over a mile away and the route to it means walking along dangerous roads. This underlines the case for keeping Wyndford open.

More: Nikki Rathmill (07894 123 721) or Wyndford mobile (07783 508 740; 07770 806.270), or http://sosglasgow.wordpress.com.

St Paul’s Way

Members of the National Union of Teachers at St Paul’s Way school in East London were due to strike on 9 July, but had support withdrawn by the union’s Action Committee just two days before.

Ammar Al-Ghabban, the NUT union rep at the school, says: “We have been sold out... Unofficial action is something we will now have to consider”.

Al-Ghabban is calling for other NUT groups and branches to send messages to the Action Committee condemning its decision and calling on it to reinstate support for strikes, and to the school NUT group at alg@stpaulsway.org.

The strike was against job cuts. School management had announced they would make 15 teachers redundant this term. Since then over a dozen teachers have been pushed into taking voluntary redundancy.

The Local Education Authority still wanted to cut four or five more teachers. After talks they agreed to delay the redundancy notices by one term.

The school NUT group considered this mere “stay of execution” woefully inadequate, and voted unanimously to go ahead with the strike. But the Action Committee thought the concession sufficient, and refused to respect the members’ decision.

Haggerston strike

Members of the National Union of Teachers at at Haggerston School in Hackney are to strike on Thursday 9 July against proposed redundancies.

This follows an outstanding ballot result — 37 ballot papers issued, 37 returned. 36 in favour of discontinuous strike action, one against.

Eleven teachers at the school — including Heads of Year, Heads of Faculty, SEN and EAL teachers — have been told they could be made redundant. Under a new management structure 13 posts have been deleted. Overall next year there will be 12 fewer teaching posts in the school.

Teachers at the school have been told they are not allowed to discuss the plan with parents or with pupils.

The governors are attempting to justify their decision by saying there are fewer pupils applying to come to the school.

Messages of support to kateford@haggerston.hackney.sch.uk

Reclaiming your taxes

Squatters have occupied the empty “main home” of Labour MPs Ann and Alan Keen. The house is in Ann Keen’s Brentford and Isleworth constituency.

The local council has been investigating why the house has been allowed to fall into disrepair, while the Keens lived in their second home close to Parliament. The Keens have claimed almost £140,000 over four years in expenses for their “second home”.

The squatters have hung banners out of the windows which say “Reclaiming Your Taxes” and “500,000 homeless — One million empty homes”.

On Friday 3 July comedians staged a benefit gig in the house, with proceeds going to victims of war; topping the bill was Mark Thomas.

On Friday 10 July the Keens will seek a repossession order in Brentford magistrates court. The occupiers are calling for a demonstration outside the courthouse.

Glasgow strike suspended

All-out indefinite strike action by some 450 frontline admin and clerical staff employed by Glasgow City Council Social Work Department (SWD), due to start on 1 July, was called off at the last minute.

The dispute centred on the demand that the workers be awarded a “working context and demands payment” under a new pay and grading scheme.

These payments, worth between £520 and £1,000 a year, can be paid where work involves potentially higher than normal health and safety risks, or dealing with people who are distressed or vulnerable.

On the eve of the scheduled strike action the City Council offered frontline staff an additional payment of £520 a year, backdated to 1 April 2009. A mass meeting UNISON members held the same day voted 213 to 103 to suspend the strike action and accept the offer in principle.

But the Council’s definition of “frontline” is unclear. The details of the offer are yet to be finalised.

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