#Islington free #school promises #union recognition

January 29, 2014

I am very pleased to be able to report to you that STEM 6 Academy has today agreed to recognise the NUT and enter in to meaningful and early negotiations with us about our members’ terms and conditions. (Any formal recognition agreement we come to should apply to all staff unions and not just the NUT.)

On this basis we have agreed to suspend tomorrow’s strike action. A decision on further action will depend on the progress achieved in the forthcoming negotiations. There will, therefore, be no picket outside the school tomorrow.

This is a very significant success, not just for the NUT but for everyone concerned about union rights and the Coalition government’s efforts to use privatisation and marketisation to drive down workers’ pay and conditions.

It shows that we do not have to surrender in the face of employers’ attacks but can stand up and fight back for our rights.

It is a credit to our members at STEM 6 that they have been prepared to do this so courageously in the face of considerable intimidation.

I would like, on behalf of STEM 6 teachers, to thank you all for the numerous messages of support they have received in recent weeks.

The battle at STEM 6 is not entirely over but today’s developments have taken us a long way towards achieving our objectives.

I know that we can count on your support if it becomes necessary to reinstate our action.

In solidarity

Ken Muller
Assistant Secretary
Islington NUT


#Islington free #school #teachers vote for strike action

January 25, 2014

By Ken Muller

Earlier this week, it was announced that teachers at the STEM 6 Academy, a newly opened 16-18 free school in Islington, had voted to take strike action in support of their demand for union recognition in a ballot organised by their union, the NUT.

This morning (Wednesday, 22 January),  the NUT  gave STEM 6 governors of a one day strike next Thursday (30 January) to be followed by two days of action on the Wednesday and Thursday of the following week (5 and 6 February) and a further three strike the following week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 11, 12 and 13 February.

Later today, the teachers received a letter instructing them to attend individual, ‘one to one’ interviews tomorrow  (Thursday 23) with the academy principal, the chair of governors – Boris Johnson’s chum Tony Sewell and the chief executive of the firm behind the free school.

Quite rightly – and courageously – the teachers met this afternoon and agreed to boycott the interviews and ask the NUT to write to the principal telling him that if he and the governors want to discuss their grievances they should do it through their union.

One of them observed that if there was any ever doubt about whether they should fight for union recognition or not today’s attempt to bully and intimidate them has ended it.

Once union recognition has been achieved, teachers at STEM 6 are demanding a major revision of the disgraceful contract which they only signed under duress before Xmas. This includes the right of management to lay teachers off without pay at its discretion – which effectively amounts to a zero hours contract. It also includes a maximum of 15 days paid sick leave per year, statutory maternity leave provision and no incremental pay progression, with any future pay increases being, once again, at management’s discretion.

This is a crucial fight, the first of its kind at a free school. The contract STEM 6 governors want to impose on its teachers is the future for all of us if Gove is allowed to get his way. STEM 6, like other here schools and academies, should be brought under local authority control and its staff should enjoy the same terms and conditions as their colleagues in maintained schools.

But meanwhile, STEM 6 teachers deserve our support – both because they are in the right, brave and courageous and because a victory for them will be a victory for the all of us.

Messages of support via: Ken Muller (ken-muller@blueyonder.co.uk)
Anyone who can make it, come and join the picket line from 7.30 am next Thursday.

Upcoming Events from IHOOPS and North #London People’s Assembly

January 18, 2014

Jan 2014

Islington free school teachers strike ballot
STEM 6 Academy  ballot for strike action closes

IHOOPS – Review deadline for March public meeting
Deadline to review IHOOPS public meeting in March

UCU industrial action
11am – 13pm. Higher education and further education lecturers’ mini-actions

North London People’s Assembly Against Austerity (NLPAAA) street stall
12noon, Wood Green. Building the Hands off Our Unions Campaign and March public meeting. Contact: elaine@redpuffin.co.uk

UCU industrial action
Higher education and further education lecturers’ mini-actions

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) meeting
7pm, Finsbury Park Mosque, 7-11 St Thomas’s Rd, N4 2QH. Near Finsbury Park Tube

IHOOPS meeting
29/01/14 (Weds)
7.30pm (not 7pm), Islington Town Hall, Upper St

Feb 2014

North London People’s Assembly planning meeting
6.30pm, venue tbc. Discussing 2014 activity, mobilising for the June People’s Assembly Against Austerity national demonstration the recall People’s Assembly Conference in March. Volunteers needed for leafleting, design and stalls.

Stop the Privatisation of Student Debt
‘No sell off of the student loan book’. In November, the government sold off all student loans taken before 1998 and worth £900m to a private debt collector for £160m. This is likely to be just round one of the ‘Great Student Loan Giveaway’. Student Assembly Against Austerity will lead national actions on campuses. More info.

Hands off our Unions
Camden Centre, Bidborough Street, London WC1H 9AU. Defend the right to resist national speaking tour launch rally. The government’s announcement of an inquiry into trade union tactics is further proof of its determination to undermine the right to protest against its austerity programme. We pledge ourselves to resist this attack. Speakers include: Len McCluskey, Unite the Union, Mark Serwotka, Public and Commercial Services Union, Francesca Martinez, Comedian, John Hendy QC and others.  Register for a free event.

Women’s Assembly Against Austerity
10am – 5pm, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London. Info and register

Mar 2014

RALLY: The People vs Austerity – North London People’s Assembly Rally
Venue and further details tbc.
2014 anti-austerity plans. Speakers include Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North, Katherine Connelly, Student Assembly Against Austerity, Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North & Chair, Stop the War Coalition, Elaine Graham-Leigh, Enfield Against the Cuts & NLPAA, Unite plus participation from a range of local, union, anti-cuts and community campaigners. Facebook info here

IHOOPS public meeting
06/03/14 (to be confirmed)
Islington Town Hall, Upper Street.

Banner Theatre play
Platform, 260 Hornsey Road London, N7 7QT

Re-call People’s Assembly conference
The Emmanuel Centre, Marsham St, London, Westminster SW1P 3DW. Supporting trade union branches, campaigns and community groups shuld send delegates. Contact: conference@thepeoplesassembly.org.uk Facebook event info

Budget Day – ‘Britain needs a pay rise’ demo
Protests and actions are being organised across the country on Budget Day, information and details to follow soon. The People’s Assembly plan an evening protest ending in a rally at Downing Street and want short videos and photo showing what should be in a ‘People’s Budget’, office@thepeoplesassembly.org.uk

No to Racism and Fascism demo
Supported by People’s Assembly Against Austerity (PAAA). More information.


May Day protests

June 2014

People’s Assembly National Demo
Central London. Free festival. More info soon.

Oct 2014

TUC National Demonstration in London.

People’s Assembly Against Austerity, http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

#Teachers vote on #strike at #Boris chum’s free #Islington #school

January 3, 2014

Teachers at the STEM 6 Academy – an Islington ‘free’ school that opened in City Road last September for 16-18-year-olds – will be voting over the next fortnight on whether they are prepared to take strike action to persuade the Academy to recognise their trade union, the National Union of Teachers.

This action, if members vote for it, has become necessary because of the cheapskate and unacceptable contractual terms and conditions which the Academy’s management is attempting to impose on its staff who were threatened with “legal consequences” if they refused individually to agree to them shortly before the Xmas holiday and the Academy’s refusal to meet with union representatives in order to negotiate improvements which would bring them in to line with terms and conditions enjoyed by teachers in most other state-funded schools in Islington and elsewhere.

Aspects of the imposed contract – which NUT members only signed under duress – include a paragraph entitled ‘Layoff’ which states: “The school reserves the right to temporarily lay you off from work without normal contractual pay or to reduce your normal working hours and reduce your pay proportionately. The school will give you as much notice as it can reasonably give of its need to take such action” –

In other words, pretty much a zero-hours contract with:

  • an annual entitlement of only three weeks paid sick leave,
  • pay rises entirely at the discretion of management with no incremental progression, and
  • statutory minimum maternity leave provision, far inferior to the entitlement of most other Islington teachers employed by the local authority.

These deplorable terms and conditions not only show callous disregard for staff at STEM 6, they also demonstrate scant respect for students at the Academy – or their parents. Aren’t STEM 6 students entitled to be taught by decently-treated, properly paid teachers who feel secure and valued in their jobs? Or are they are only entitled to education on the cheap?

These are questions which STEM 6 students and parents might want to ask the Academy principal, John O’Shea and its chair of governors, Tony Sewell among whose admirers are Islington resident and local Mayor, Boris Johnson, who appointed him last year to chair his Education Enquiry in to how to improve the quality of London schools. (Presumably Mr Sewell thinks this can be done by exploiting and mistreating its teachers.)

Another question that Mr O’Shea could be asked is: how does he justify including Paragraph 11.1 in the STEM 6 contract of employment? Under the heading ‘Outside Interests’, it states:

Save with the prior written permission of the Deputy Principal, you must not during your employment be involved in any other work, occupation or activity whether paid or unpaid which in view of the School affects your ability to devote the whole of your time and attention during working hours to the School’s business or conflicts with the interests or causes damage to the goodwill of the School. … Failure to do so will be regarded as a disciplinary matter by the School and dealt with accordingly.

This is a serious case of double standards, surely, because – as Islington NUT Assistant Secretary, Ken Muller, was reported as complaining in the Islington Tribune on 15 March last year:

“The role of John O’Shea is extremely dubious, given that he is currently the director of the existing consortium of four Islington school sixth-forms. Doesn’t he have a conflict of interests?”

He added: “One governor at Highbury Grove School had complained at a very poorly attended consultation meeting held by STEM on Tuesday that he had only been informed of the project the day before – when John O’Shea is meant to be running the Highbury Grove sixth-form.

So what is good for the STEM 6 Principal is clearly not good enough for the Academy’s staff!

Unfortunately, because – unlike Islington’s community schools – STEM 6, as a “free” school, is not accountable in any way to local people through their elected borough councillors. Run by a private “not-for-profit” company based in Wembley (the Skills Development Agency) it answerable only to its directors and ultimately to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education. Maybe he has got some questions to answer too.

Ken Muller, Assistant Secretary of Islington NUT, said:

Teachers at STEM 6, if they vote to strike, are not just standing up for their own right to be treated decently by their employer. They are also asserting that their students are entitled to be taught by properly remunerated teachers who feel valued and secure in their jobs. They are not looking for a fight over these issues. They would rather be able to get on with teaching and supporting their students and helping them to fulfil their ambitions. But if STEM 6 management – and those standing behind them – continue to dismiss their concerns and to refuse to meet with their union representatives, then STEM 6 teachers have assured us that they are willing to take industrial action to support their case. If it comes to this, they will have the full backing of the NUT and – I expect – students, parents and other workers, sick of getting their livelihoods trashed at a time when MPs are in line for an 11 per cent pay increase and top bankers just down the road the road from STEM 6 saw their average pay and bonuses rise 35 per cent to £1.6 million last year.

For more information, call Ken Muller on 07950 075 088 0r 020 8806 7717.

Lobby the #Whittington Board: HITCHINS AND KOH HAVE GOT TO GO!

January 3, 2014

Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition

Lobby on Wednesday 8 January, 1.30pm, outside the Whittington Hospital

We are horrified that Steve Hitchins has been appointed as Chair of the Hospital Board. He was Lib Dem leader of Islington Council for several years. He has been working with private sector companies, contracting them for health services: see http://www.localleadership.gov.uk/future/specialadvisers/

There are two main reasons for our concerns at this appointment:

i. Steve Hitchin’s links with private health care… at a time when our NHS is under threat of privatisation and cuts from this Government, through their Health and Social Care Act. He is a member of a party that supports this decimation of the NHS. He is a board member of Newlon Housing Trust and chairs their regeneration charity Newlon Fusion. He also works with a number of private sector companies principally contracting with local government or the health service. Is this the kind of person we want to be responsible for our NHS, our hospital and our health service provision?

ii. Steve Hitchin’s reputation amongst his own party: see http://susannelamido.blogspot.co.uk/2006/08/islington-knives-are-out-for-steve.html, written by a Lib Dem!

We wonder why Dr Koh is still in post having led the Board through such a wrecking and disastrous plan to slash the hospital in its bid to become a Foundation Trust.

So do join us outside the main entrance of the Hospital on Wednesday 8th January at 1.30pm. This is OUR hospital. We need it to provide a positive environment and to meet our health needs, under a publicly funded system, not under a system that pours money for health into shareholders’ profits.

See you there! And do pass this on to everyone you know!