As members of the National Union of Teachers and Unison in Tower Hamlets prepare to strike on Wednesday 30 March, NUT members in Camden will join them in a one-day strike as anti-cuts industrial action slowly begins to spread.
85% of Camden NUT members voted to strike, with 79% also voting for further action. Like Tower Hamlets, Camden has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the UK and faces devastating cuts to vital services. The borough is set to lose two children’s centres, its play service and the Cognition and Learning team. Local nurseries are also planning to introduce charges, stricter rationing of places and will open for less hours. Teachers who specialise in areas such as special needs, music and sexual health could face redundancy as part of a 20% cuts package to the council’s budget. One of the demands of the strike is for the council to operate a policy of redeployment rather than redundancy.
The strike is particularly significant because it represents one of only a few live industrial actions explicitly aimed at opposing and ultimately reversing the cuts.
Despite the massive potential job losses across local authorities, very few public sector unions have balloted for strikes against the cuts. The fact that the NUT has now moved into action, if only in two London boroughs, might help catalyse further action elsewhere.
Camden NUT secretary Andrew Baisley said, “no teacher votes for strike action lightly but the cuts are a historic step backwards. We are ultimately hoping the council will reverse these cuts.”
Strikers will gather at 10:30am at the Crowndale Centre before marching to the Town Hall.
Tower Hamlets workers will assemble at 11am at Weavers Fields before marching to a rally at the London Muslim Centre as part of the NUT and Unison strike against massive cuts and job losses in the borough.
Picket lines will be put on at schools and local government workplaces across the borough as trade unionists attempt to maximise the impact of the strike.
NUT leader Christine Blower said, “Cost cutting exercises such as those being implemented in Tower Hamlets will see the most vulnerable children being deprived of the services they need and their teachers of the support they require. While industrial action is always a last resort the NUT cannot stand by and watch vital education services axed.”
AWL members are active within both NUT and Unison in Tower Hamlets and will be integrally involved in the strike. Next week’s Solidarity will feature reports and photos from the picket lines and rally.