School workers strike outside Byron’s Court school (Photo: twitter/@NEUnion)

Local school strikes are spreading.

Around 70 workers at The Blue Coat School in Liverpool were set to strike on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

The dispute is over grievances with management including claims of an “unmanageable workload”, “safety concerns” and “ineffective mechanisms for negotiation and consultation”.

One teacher told the Liverpool Echo newspaper that management was “treating the school like a private fiefdom”. The strike was to “say enough is enough” and “We want our voices heard.”

Workers at Byron Court school in Brent, west London, are fighting privatisation plans that would see the community school join the Harris Federation academy chain.

They were set to strike on Friday of this week despite management bringing in agency staff, to try to break the strike.

A teacher in Brent told Socialist Worker that the attempted academisation has “nothing to do with school improvement and everything to do with privatisation. Nobody who knows the school well thinks there are serious problems with the school,” they said.

NEU union members at Belmont Park School in Waltham Forest, east London planned to strike this week over working conditions.

Management has been employing and paying teachers on a casual basis, meaning staff don’t know if they will be paid for permanent responsibilities.

They were scheduled to strike on Thursday and Friday of this week, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week and 24, 25, 26, 27 June.

At St Benedict’s Independent School in west London, school workers are set to strike to defend their pensions after management attempted to slash their pension scheme.

They were set to strike on Wednesday and Thursday next week, 26, 27 June and 3, 4, 5 September.

Workers also planned strikes at the James Allen’s girls school in south London on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

They are fighting to stop the school attacking their pensions and over pay.

Around 180 school workers at Little Heath and Hatton, two special schools in Redbridge in east London struck last week.

They’re fighting against what they say is poor provision for their students with special educational needs and disabilities (Send). This comes after years of students being crammed into inadequate spaces.

Striker Ben argued that “this is a national fight”.

But school workers are striking in Redbridge because “the local authority has not listened enough”.

Campaigners demand justice for Sheku Bayoh

Over 200 anti-racists called for justice outside the Sheku Bayoh Inquiry in Edinburgh last Thursday.

The inquiry is now considering whether racism played a part in Sheku’s death. He died after contact with the police in the streets of Kirkcaldy, near Fife, in 2015.

The vigil was called by the Justice for Sheku Bayoh campaign, Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), the Scottish TUC union federation and the Scottish TUC Black Workers’ Committee.

Trade unions backing the vigil included the UCU, Unison, Unite, RMT, PCS and striking education workers from the EIS college dispute.

Edinburgh and Aberdeen university students from the Palestine encampments also joined the action. Rania from SUTR Edinburgh told Socialist Worker, “Our protest today will help put pressure on the inquiry.”

Rania added, “This is one of the biggest events for Sheku we’ve organised. It means we’re reaching new activists and the campaign is growing.”

The inquiry will end in autumn this year.

The Bayoh family believes racism in the police is a reason Sheku died.

“The police…used so much violence against him,” Rania said. “We have to ask, if Sheku wasn’t black, would it have happened like this?”

Sheku’s sister Kadi told the vigil that the state “failed us at every stage of the process” and that the “ugly head of institutional racism and stereotyping kept appearing”.

The Bayoh’s lawyer Aamer Anwar said, “They always knew that the Crown and the Police Independent Review Commissioner (PRIC) failed to investigate race.

“They both ignored the evidence of racism.”

Raina added, “Kadi said today that the turnout gives the family strength—so we will definitely mobilise again.

“We have to push hard to hold everyone responsible to account and to get real justice.”

Follow the campaign at twitter.com/SUTRScotland

School action ballots

A number of schools are balloting to strike.

St Saviour’s school, Holy Trinity school and St John’s Angell Town school in Lambeth, south London, are formally balloting to strike against a threatened merger and closure.

Each had a strong indicative ballot, gaining a 100 percent yes vote on at least 80 percent turnout.

NEU union members at four schools in Hastings, all part of the University of Brighton Academies Trust (UBAT), are formally balloting for strikes against job losses and cuts.

Over 200 school workers at eight Catholic schools in west London have moved to a formal ballot after the Westminster Diocese—a religious district—signalled it wants to turn all its schools into academies.

All members want better guarantees to protect their terms and conditions, while the Westminster Diocese refuses to give them anything.

At Villiers High School in west London, over 70 NEU members have moved to a formal ballot over poor management practices, workload and victimisation of the school rep.

NEU members voted overwhelmingly to strike to defend the rep after she faced malicious disciplinary charges. The latest indicative ballot shows a Yes vote of 87 percent with a 94 percent turnout.

Workers at Chingford Foundation School and South Chingford Foundation School in east London are formally balloting over workload, fixed term contracts and increases to teachers’ contact time.

And workers at the Connaught for School For Girls in east London are moving to a formal ballot over increased workload, and other issues.

Morrisons action on hold

The Unite union has suspended strikes by 1,000 Morrisons workers.

Workers at warehouses in Gadbrook in Cheshire and Wakefield, West Yorkshire, supply 500 stores and are in dispute over pension changes.

The Unite union members walked out on Thursday 23 May last until Sunday 26 May.

They had planned to strike again on Thursday this week for 72 hours.

But Unite called this off as a “goodwill gesture”.

Morrisons made an improved pay offer, and so Unite wanted to allow its members to vote on the newly proposed deal.

Bosses are forcing workers to increase their own pension contributions while the company reduces its own contributions by the same amount.

And a new “pick rate” monitors the speed at which items are packed.

Strikes over pay packets

Over 50 workers at the Jiffy packaging plant in Winsford, Cheshire, are set to strike next month.

Workers at the plant have been offered a 1.5 percent pay rise—a cut in real terms.

Unite’s members are demanding an 8 percent pay rise backdated to April 2024.

Workers are also angry that they only receive eight weeks of sick pay and want to see an increase to 12 weeks.

They also want the reinstatement of breaks during the working day and changes to bank holiday working practices.

The workers plan to walk out for nearly two weeks beginning on 1 July and continuing until 13 July.

Workers are also refusing to work any overtime from 1 July. The company made nearly £6 million in gross profits according to its last accounts.

Tractor workers drive strikes for better pay

Tractor makers in Basildon, Essex, continue strikes this week.

The 500 Unite union members walked out on 14 May for three weeks of action on every Tuesday to Thursday until the end of May.

Workers then walked out on Tuesday to Thursday last week, and again on Tuesday to Thursday this week.

Action also includes Tuesday to Thursday of next week and 25 to 27 June.

CNH Industrial in Basildon broke an agreement, signed in 2022, that said pay increases would be calculated by the previous year’s annual average rate of inflation.

Instead, bosses have offered workers a 4 percent increase for 2024, rather than 7.4 percent. For 2024, workers were offered the rate of inflation as of January 2024.

The company says it has a revised offer.

But bosses won’t table it unless Unite agrees to recommend the deal, despite it being unseen.

CNH has targeted Unite workplace reps by switching their shift times and roles as well as reducing hours for other staff.

A united fight is the best way to win on guards’ pay

Some 200 security guards in job centres across Britain are set to strike for seven days from Monday.

They are PCS union members and will be joining the campaign by security guards in the GMB union who struck for six days last month.

Both unions are demanding fairer pay from their employer, the international security firm G4S.

G4S is a minimum wage employer, turning over billions of pounds annually and employing 533,000 people worldwide.

Yet it refuses to pay workers the pay rise they deserve and need.

The GMB and PCS unions should coordinated strikes to make sure they have the biggest impact on the G4S bosses.

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