Teachers on the picket line at Benson Community school in Birmingham last December (Picture: Birmingham NEU on X)

School workers in the NEU union at St Bartholomew’s in Brighton and St Peter’s in Portslade struck on Monday over job losses linked to closure plans.

Brighton and Hove council is set to shut the schools. But teachers, other workers, parents and supporters are not going down without a fight.

In ballots, St Bartholomew’s saw a 100 percent vote in favour of strikes and a 100 percent turnout. St Peter’s saw a 90 percent vote in favour of strikes and a 100 percent turnout.

“The resounding ballot results indicate the depth of feeling at both schools and the sense of betrayal members feel at the way the council have behaved towards their schools,” said Nick Childs, NEU senior regional officer.

“Labour made a specific commitment to keeping schools open in the 2023 manifesto. Once elected they backtracked on their commitment within months.”

Meanwhile school workers at Benson community primary in Birmingham struck on Monday and were set to walkout on Thursday and Friday of this week as well. NEU members at the school struck for seven days in December.

The fight is over issues including bullying, unreasonable workload expectations, a lack of meaningful consultation on changes and a top-down management approach.

Messages of support to Birminghamdistrict@neu.org.uk

Pay fight coming in Scottish colleges

Scottish further education lecturers in the EIS union have voted decisively to return to the pay battle. A national ballot last year fell short of turnout thresholds under anti-union laws by just 25 votes.

That was partly because the two biggest colleges— City of Glasgow and Edinburgh—were busy against compulsory redundancies.

Action at both blocked employers’ plans to roll out widespread compulsory redundancies across the sector. Now the focus returns to pay.

This time the 59 percent ballot turnout and large majorities for strikes and action short of strike show there is a thirst for action to win. We have not had a salary increase since 2021.

It won’t be easy to win as the Scottish government is slashing the FE budget. The campaign cannot just be about lecturers’ pay. The employers wanted to frame the issue as pay increases paid for by job losses.

In fact, fighting redundancies and for better pay is the only way to save the FE sector.  It will take strikes and political campaigning.

Donny Gluckstein

Action can clean up at RBC

Cleaners at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) building in Bishopsgate in central London are balloting for action over safety concerns.

Workers are worried that conditions in the building are dangerous for their health. The Caiwu union reported that cleaners are forced to clean with the wrong cleaning material and malfunctioning equipment.

Cleaners are also overworked due to a lack of staff and say they are being mistreated by management. The outsourced workers have also been sent emails from their employers threatening to make more staff redundant. This has only added to their distress.

Workers have opened up a dispute with their outsourcer and are calling on RBC to take responsibility.

Unite calls more strikes at Barts in east London

Workers at Barts NHS trust are set to strike again next week and at the beginning of February.

The long-running dispute involves an array of staff, including laboratory technicians, porters, cleaners, catering and cleaning and nursing.

Each department has its own reasons for striking but they are standing united.

The Unite union says all its members employed by Barts and subsidiary company Synergy will strike from next Monday until Friday 2 February.

Then, domestics, caterers, porters, security and others will strike again from Saturday 3 February until Friday 9 February.

For many strikers, the non-payment of the government’s “Covid bonus” to workers transferring from the private sector back to the NHS is the most crucial issue. For other strikers the question of safe staffing and pay is also central.

And, for workers in pathology, it is management’s decision to rip up workers’ existing work pattern and replace it with a new, 24/7 rotating system that sparked a dispute.

Rush donations via tinyurl.com/BartsSupport

Clinical support workers at Wirral hospitals on Merseyside are continuing their weekday strike until the end of the month.

Strikers in the Unison union are furious after bosses reneged on a deal to reclassify them as band 3 to reflect their clinical skills.

Messages of support to Unison north west at nwepoc@unison.co.uk

Justice for Jay Abatan

The family of Jay Abatan are to hold a vigil and a meeting to mark the 25th anniversary of his death, call once again for justice and appeal for new witnesses to come forward. 

In January 1999, Jay Abatan, a 42 year old black man, alongside his brother Michael, was the victim of an assault outside the Ocean Rooms in Brighton. Michael Abatan has always believed this was a racially motivated attack.  

Jay Abatan tragically died from injuries sustained in the attack.  Now 25 years on, the family of Jay Abatan will hold a vigil on Sunday 28 January to mark Jay`s death.

Assemble,  Sun 28 Jan , 2pm, Brighton police station John Street, BN2 0LA. For more information on the case go to justiceforjayabatan@outlook.com

No to Nottingham council cuts

Notts Trades council and the local Unite, Unison and GMB unions met last week to plan action against cuts.

In November Nottingham City Council issued a Section 114 notice severely limiting spending. The council now plans £50 million cuts in 2024-25, which include the equivalent of 550 job losses plus huge service cuts.

The proposals include the closure of three council residential homes, the axing of a  home care service for adults with complex and challenging behaviours, cuts to libraries, community centres, museums, a young people’s centre and more.

The unions’ meeting called for a fight to defend all services, no job cuts and a campaign for more money from central government. It planned an anti-cuts march and a lobby of the Labour council’s budget meeting.

Martin Sleath

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