After ten days of solid strike action, NUT members at Langdon School in Newham have voted overwhelmingly to suspend their strikes after growing pressure on the Local Authority helped to achieve some significant movement in negotiations to resolve the original grievances around workload and oppressive management.
The dispute is still far from resolved and members may need to return to strike action if the negotiated outcomes do not produce acceptable changes at the school.
However, as the Langdon NUT reps have said in their latest statement;
“We feel that we have shown that collective action works and that we have made considerable gains. We have won the victories we have because our group was willing to stand firm in the face of massive bullying and strike breaking attempts and maintain a solid and united strike. We also had brilliant support from the NUT at all levels: association, National Exec and Regional and National officials. In addition, the enormous solidarity we received from all of you kept us firm. We think we have shown that the NUT is a union which fights for its members and stands up to bullies at work ... Our group is transformed. We have new members, new strikers, new pickets, new speakers and new organisers. We have enormous solidarity and complete confidence in one another. Our morale is high and we have learned many lessons which we will put to good use. We are proud to be in the NUT”
Langdon NUT members should indeed be proud for their collective stand. Hopefully, the school management, the Labour Local Authority and the Tory Ministers who issued the advice to recruit strike-breakers will have realised that running a school with supply staff is not easy to sustain – and that the NUT will be prepared to respond with the action necessary to confront such a threat. Let's also hope that the gains that have been won do indeed produce the changes needed in the way the school is run.
Nevertheless, the dispute has been a warning to all NUT members about the methods that will be used to try and defeat our collective strength as we battle to defend teachers and education against swingeing cuts and attacks on public services.