Sunday 4 December 2011

Langdon School - members stand firm as support for strike strengthens


First, the strike itself. Last week we struck on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We're really pleased to be able to tell you that two NUT members who crossed picket lines the Thursday before have rejoined the strike. An NASUWT member and an NUT ex-member both joined the union this week and immediately struck with us. We're therefore stronger this weekend than we were last, which is really not what the head had in mind when she began the strike busting operation! Hats off to the new strikers - it's a credit to them in the face of relentless bullying and intimidation from management that they're with us.

On Tuesday we welcomed several first timers on the picket lines, as well as two National Executive members. The bin lorry refused to cross the line, as did Parcel Force drivers. Our strikers' meeting for the day took place at the Newham NUT association meeting, with over 50 strikers there. Colleagues from two secondary school groups moved a motion to spread the action to other Newham schools, as we consider that as the LA are issuing contracts to strike breakers, this means that our whole branch should be in dispute. The motion passed by 90 votes to nil and will now go to the Action Committee. Members from other schools joined us for the strikers' meeting.

Wednesday's picket was shared with Unite members at school, which was closed to pupils. NUT pickets then visited two PCS picket lines and Unison pickets at the town hall, then went into London for the demonstration. We were joined by delegations from four other Newham schools and two from Waltham Forest in putting thousands of leaflets (paid for by our supporters' donations) into the London demo urging solidarity for the strike.

Thursday saw 42 of our strikers on the gates. The strikers' meeting had 55 there, concentrating on building the meeting for parents due on Friday. We also worked out a collective strategy for staff briefing on Friday morning, which has in recent weeks consisted of the NUT being pilloried. There was a discussion of how best to escalate action if we're still out next term - three days a week to keep in touch with kids and parents and disrupt the scabbing, or five days a week?

Friday's staff briefing wasn't half as demoralising as usual, with sixty NUT members standing together with notebooks taking down the head's every word... The collective response lifted morale enormously. Senior managers spent the day demanding our planners so they can set cover for the scabs to do with our classes. We spent the day standing up to them. In the evening about 80 parents attended the NUT's meeting, despite LA attempts to get us to call it off. Our branch secretary has been accused of engaging in actions which are 'not legitimate trade union activity' and had his facility time threatened - another reason for a borough wide dispute, in our view. Kevin Courtney spoke for the union. Opinion in the meeting was clearly against the head and the Chair of Governors. Many parents and two parent governors supported the strike. This is work to be developed next week.

The school is open and running (just about) on scab labour when we're out, so next week's first strikers' meeting will concentrate on strategies for picketing. Three days on strike next week. We got about a thousand pounds in donations this week, with more on the way, and began to send out speakers to other schools.

Thanks to you all. Keep the messages coming in, invite us to speak, collect for us. Above all, forward this email to your associations, divisions and members and to any other union contacts you have and use us as an example. Let's fight together.

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