Unison strike at Central Foundation Girls' School, London

Submitted by AWL on 1 October, 2006 - 3:10

From Central Foundation Girls' School Unison: At a branch meeting [on 27 September] our members voted unanimously to ballot for industrial action over the threat of redundancies among admin staff in the school.

The NASUWT and the NUT [teachers' unions] have pledged support, which means that potentially the school could shut during the action.

The Unison Tower Hamlets Branch has also backed our decision and is contacting the regional office to ask them to endorse our dispute.

This is a fantastic response to the proposed restructure of the admin section.

The proposed plan

The proposal is to get rid of thirteen posts in the admin department. In their place will be eleven new posts (actually 19 but some have already been taken).

There is to be no direct assimilation of current staff into the new posts. All those whose jobs are being cut will have to apply for a new post. They will be competing against applicants from outside the school.

Reason for dispute

This is why the Unison members have taken the step we have. We consider the decision to put our members through this process to be grossly unfair.

If the school wishes to reorganise the way admin is carried out, they should do so without the drastic effect of redundancy on our staff.

The last restructure

The last time admin was restructured (only just over one year ago) it was done in a hurry by the old head who wanted it out of the way before she retired.
We argued at the time that she was going too fast, it was unnecessary and anyway the new head wouldn’t like it.

Were we right? Or were we right?

The job descriptions were badly written, and indeed were still being written when the deadline passed. The head pressed on anyway.

The interviews were an insult to anyone who had to go through them. Staff were receiving their invitation to interview after they had actually gone in to the interview room. This resulted in such anger that the admin staff marched into the Bursar’s office and said they would not leave until the process was stopped and done properly.

The lines of management were confused so that it was unclear who could tell who what to do or even what they were supposed to do.

The result was a mess and nobody knows that more than the staff who were put in the position of trying to make the new jobs work.

Review

When the new head came, we asked for a period of review so that the inaccuracies could be ironed out. She asked EPM to carry out the review and this restructure is the result.

We don’t blame her for wanting to sort out a mess. The problem is how it is being done. The staff in admin are being punished for a situation they did not create.

They are being punished after trying to make this mess work for over a year. This is wrong.

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