Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/17362
Uplands junior school strikes again
Support staff at an inner city school in Leicester, members of GMB and Unison, took strike action on 4 September against plans to halve the number of teaching assistant (TAs).
Last term there were three days of strike action by teachers in the NUT at Uplands Junior School. These were over grievances against the head teacher and management and included opposition to the cuts in the numbers of TAs (see previous articles). Teachers recognised the important role that teaching assistants play.
It was an impressive picket line, most of the striking workers were on it, and two workers who went in first of all came back out again.
Teaching assistants on the picket line told the Socialist: "We don't want to be out on strike, but we feel forced to do this because there is not enough support in the school for our children.
"We are losing eight positions. Three have gone and not been replaced and there are five redundancies.
"There would now only be eight left. We have a high number of children with statements who require one to one support and now we have a low spare capacity for other children who need help.
"It has doubled our workload and is causing a lot of stress. A while ago the head approved extra TAs as he accepted more were needed but now he has made a lot redundant, it makes no sense."
The head and management have acted in a bizarre and bullying fashion, and have previously suspended four members of staff, and started disciplinary procedure against six.
This is an attempt to intimidate staff but it is only making people more determined. The local authority has now issued the governors a warning notice as a first step to removing their delegated powers.
If they are not removed and the restructuring plans put on hold, the teachers are likely to be back out on strike again. To win, all the unions in the school need to take action together.
On the picket line, union members were leafleting parents as they came in and the majority were sympathetic to the unions' case.
However a tiny number of parents, probably with links to some of the governors have organised themselves as "Parents against Strikes".
They turned up at the picket line with provocative posters such as "Sack poor staff" and "Unions - leave our children alone".
The demands of the staff are more likely to be won if parents are supportive of the action. The head and the governors have not been shy in putting their case to parents.
The position of the staff must be given a voice amongst the parents and the wider community, to explain that the staff are taking strike action in the interests of the children.
Whilst there are special issues at this school resulting from the behaviour of the head and his friends, cuts in support staff are taking place at schools across the country.
The workers at Uplands have shown that it is possible to fight. A united struggle can win!