'So you marched with us in London on March 26th, now you want to cut our terms and conditions, what kind of solidarity is that?'
That was the essence of the pointed message sent by one of the support staff unions in Lewisham to our Labour Mayor. The hypocrisy of councillors marching against cuts - and then expecting their workforce to pay with increased hours and worsened redundancy payments - has not been lost on local trade unionists.
The Council say that they can 'save jobs' if unions agree to these cuts. Of course, the best way to save on redundancy payouts is not to sack staff in the first place!
Another Section 188 notice has just been issued by Lewisham Council notifying of a further 386 threatened posts - out of 3813 still left employed by the Council - that's over 10%. This figure excludes schools - but they are also announcing cuts to both teaching and support staff.
Three Lewisham secondary schools are going through consultation procedures ready to issue redundancy notices at the end of May. One wants to increase teaching loads from 21 hours a week to 24 hours! Another blames some of its deficit on a new PFI contract . Of course the contractors made sure that their payments were tied to RPIX indexing, not the cut-price CPI to be used for our pensions!
NUT members at the three schools have all requested urgent indicative ballots for strike action. This comes on top of a 321 to 36 vote (i.e 90% YES) in an Authority-wide indicative ballot of community schools to oppose any threat to worsen redundancy payments. Having seen the successful action in Tower Hamlets and Camden, Lewisham NUT will now be considering taking the same kind of action in our borough too.
As one NUT members asked at a school meeting yesterday, 'why should we pay for their mistakes with our livelihoods'?