National Union of Teachers Express Outrage at ConDems

June 11, 2011

Cross posted from Right to Work. Ken Muller from Islington NUT and Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS) gives us an update on the mood among teachers as they vote in a strike ballot over pensions.

NUT officers have been busy telephoning and visiting schools to ensure we get a good turnout in the ballot for action on 30 June.

Every school NUT group meeting we have attended or heard about has expressed outrage over what the Con-Dem government is threatening to do to our pensions and support for a campaign of strike action beginning on the 30th.
Teachers are especially pleased to be taking action alongside civil servants and lecturers and look forward to taking more action after the summer holiday, hopefully alongside colleagues in the other teaching and public sector unions like the NAS-UWT, UNISON and the GMB whose leaders did not think it appropriate to join us at the end of June.
We do not  just see the 30th as day of action in defence of our pensions but a step up from the magnificent TUC march on 26 March when working people start to use their industrial power to force the government to back off from seeking to make us pay for a crisis caused by their fat cat banker and tax-evader friends.
We also hope that we will be joined on the march from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Westminster on day by the whole Islington community who are victims of the Con-Dem cuts, whether as the providers or users of our public services and benefits.

Report on Academies Resistance

June 7, 2011

This is a report from Ken

Three weeks ago we heard that three primary schools in Islington were proposing to form a chain of academies.

None of them had NUT reps and we had struggled to get in to them to meet with our members – Tom and I were turned away at the the school gates before Easter. “Consultation” had already begun before we found out what was going on and is due to end in three days time – with governors coming to a final decision in the second week of June. It all looked pretty hopeless but we decided to have a go, prioritising the school – New North – where we had the least contact with members.

We have leafleted the schools from outside (New North twice), held meeting with members in two of them and organised a meeting at the third later in this week. At the New North and William Tyndale meetings – which were well-attended – members all took AAA briefings and agreed to hold staff ballots on the academy conversion proposals.

Two weeks ago we set up a meeting between the Islington Council Leader, Catherine West, the Executive member for Education, Richard Watts, NUT officers (including Alasdair and me) and officers of the GMB and UNISON.

Where we agreed a plan of action to oppose the academies, starting with a public meeting close to New North, to be followed by ones at the other two schools. We have had two weeks of excellent coverage in both the local Islington papers. We have rattled the heads and governors of the schools – who have accused Alasdair and me of “intimidating” parents by giving them AAA briefings outside one school, abusing our access to e-mail addresses by sending governors at New North an article by Peter Downes and me of “harassing a member of staff”, presumably because I told the head’s PA (by e-mail) that we wanted to be consulted on the academy proposal itself and not just TUPE after the decision in principle had been taken.

Tonight we had the meeting at New North. It was brilliant. Speakers were meant to be me, Catherine West, an LA school governor who was opposed to the academy conversion and a GMB branch officer. In the event, the Chair of Governors who had accused me of harassment told the LA governor that he was “strongly advised” not to speak at the meeting so his place as chair was taken by a local (Labour) ward councillor, Gary Doolan – who had previously been refused entry to a consultation meeting at the school. About thirty people turned up, including a few teachers and a lot of Somali parents (whose kids make up a sizeable proposition of the school roll).  Everyone spoke well, especially Catherine West who stressed out what parents would lose by the school becoming an academy – notably the free school dinners still financed by the Council. (The head and governors hadn’t anticipated that the Council would refuse to continue paying for this and now they are spitting blood, threatening to go to court!)

All of us made a lot of the fact that a private company, Strictly Education – which currently provides HR to the three schools and stands to gain enormously by expanding its involvement in the event of the school converting, is not only carrying out the consultation but also writing up the final report.

When we finished speaking one Somali mum started speaking very angrily in her mother tongue. Was she for the academy (the head had told Somali parents they would get extra money spent on their children) or was she against? Then someone translated.

“We are being bulldozed in to something none of us want. We don’t want or school run by private business. We don’t want it to break away from the local authority.” Other mums who could speak English supported her furiously. “At first they kept it quiet. Then they allowed only a couple of weeks to find out what its is all about after giving us one leaflet written only in English in small print so many parent can’t understand it. And now they are getting Strictly Education – which stands to make a lot of money if the school becomes an academy to carry out the consultation and report back on it.”

Several other parents asked, “What can we do?” Julie Hunt, who is a parent at another local school, told them how her child’s head and governors had rejected becoming an academy and that New North parents should find out who the parent governors are and demand they do the same. Inspired by these wonderful women, I told them that the head teacher, the pro-academy governors and Strictly were treating them as if they had no voice and no power. But they had proved tonight that they did have a voice and they did have power. Just as the people of Egypt and Tunisia had done they should demand the right to vote about decisions that affected them. They should draw up a petition, get as many parents as possible to sign and they should organise a demonstration outside the next governors meeting when they could hand it in.

All the parents supported the idea – and Catherine West invited them to the town hall to help them draw it up and produce it, which they are now going to do. This petition can now provide an organising focus for involving a wide number of parents, teachers and support staff. The would be school privatisers of Islington schools now have a real fight on their hands. Game on!


June Newsletter

June 6, 2011

J30 meeting: Building the Resistance
Monday 13th June, 7pm, Islington Town Hall

Speakers: Jeremy Corbyn MP, Alex Kenny NUT National Executive, Sean Vernell UCU National Executive. 30th June should see up to 800,000 strike against government attacks on pensions, jobs and pay. ATL, NUT, PCS and UCU will be organising co-ordinated national strike action. We would like to invite all anti-cuts campaigners in Islington to this meeting to discuss how we build 30th June as a day of resistance taking forward the fight back against government attacks.
Flyer: June 30th meeting flyer

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ATOS Protest
Tuesday 14th June, 5pm, Triton Square

ATOS Healthcare Recruitment Day Picket at. ATOS Origin, 4 Triton Square, Regents Place, NW1 Tube: Euston/Warren St. Buses: 73, 30.
Flyer: ATOS Protest IHOOPS & IDPAC flyer

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IHOOPS AGM
Tuesday 5th July, 7pm, Islington Town Hall

Please do attend! You are invited to make nominations for Officers, in person or by email, by 13th June 7pm.
Further details: IHOOPS AGM Notice

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Welfare Uncut!
Tuesday 7th June, 9am, the Royal Society

Welfare “reforms” don’t fool us! On 7th June, a conference at the Royal Society will bring together those who will play a role in “the biggest shake up of the [welfare] system for 60 years”. In the same week, the Welfare Reform Bill looks set to return to parliament for its third reading. We’re not fooled by the proposals for “reform”: we know they mean abolishing our rights to welfare. While the conference may include some speakers who challenge aspects of the government’s plans, its blurb reads like a DWP press release. Come along and protest. Be there from 9am, Tue 7th June, at the Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG. Directions: http://royalsociety.org/visit-us/

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Defend the Right to Protest Public Forum
Wednesday 8th June, 7pm, ULU (Malet Street)

WE WON’T LET FEAR RULE THE STREETS – IT’S RIGHT TO PROTEST
Speakers: MERLIN EMMANUEL – JUSTICE FOR SMILEY CULTURE, JODY MCINTYRE, ALFIE MEADOWS, TONY BENN, UK UNCUT, BRYAN SIMPSON (arrested for occupying Millbank), JOHN MCDONNELL MP, SARA TOMLINSON –NUT & Stop Kettling Our Kids, THE GUILLOTINE 3 (under suspicion for conspiracy to commit street theatre) http://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org fb group: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=170090789719057

Last week in a totally outrageous decision, the Metropolitan police concluded that officers were “justified” in pulling Jody McIntyre from his wheelchair and “inadvertently” hitting him with a baton on the 9th December student fees demonstration. Next week Alfie Meadows, the philosophy student who suffered a brain haemorrhage after been hit on the head by a police officer at the same protest, will be in court on charges of violent disorder. Alfie nearly died as a result of his injuries. Please support us by coming to the public forum on 8th June and showing support outside the court hearings of Alfie Meadows and other protesters on 9th and 10th June.

THURS 9th JUNE (the day of Alfie Meadows hearing) DEMAND JUSTICE FOR ALFIE MEADOWS, JODY McINTYRE, SMILEY CULTURE- PUT POLICE VIOLENCE NOT PROTESTERS IN THE DOCK 9am, Westminster City Court, 70 Horseferry Road FRI 10th JUNE, 9am (the day of Bryan Simpson’s hearing) DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST BRYAN SIMPSON DEFEND STUDENTS RIGHT TO PROTEST 9AM, Westminster City Court, 70 Horseferry Road

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IHOOPS Stalls and schools leafleting!
Saturday 11th & 18th June, Nags Head and Angel, 12-1.30pm

We still need volunteers to help leaflet Schools to build for 30th June. This is one hour slots approx 3-4pm om weekdays in June. We also need help to support IHOOPS stalls on 11th or 18th June (and in the coming weeks) We will have stalls at Nags Head and Angel approx. 12-1.30pm Please let me know if you are available.

See you soon!
IHOOPS