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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 October 2012

Workplace news in brief

Court protest

On 19 October 35 court workers joined a lunchtime protest outside Birmingham magistrates court against government plans to privatise a large chunk of the criminal justice system.

Members of the PCS trade union warned that privatising the collection and enforcement of court fines would unleash the likes of G4S and private bailiffs - known for adding extra charges - onto the public, be it criminal or motoring fines.

"We've seen what private firms have done to the railways, in the NHS with failing PFIs bankrupting NHS trusts and what G4S did in the Olympics."

"We don't want profits made from justice, profits that will be taken from both the public and Court staff", PCS Ministry of Justice group president Kevin Greenway told the protest.

The PCS is balloting now on industrial action.

Yorks strike vote

Unison members working for Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust have voted to strike over redundancies and pay cuts. 88% of the admin and clerical staff voted to strike and 96% voted for action short of a strike. Workers face pay cuts of between 1,500 and 3,000 a year.

Many of those workers will be joining the demonstration through Dewsbury against hospital cuts on 27 October.

Teachers fight back

National Union of Teachers (NUT) members are taking action short of strike action over excessive workloads.

Victories are being won at school level and some of the worst workload practices knocked back.

But if action short of strike action doesn't persuade schools to think again, then the NUT has made clear that school strike requests are likely to be supported - and that strikes will be financially sustained by the union.

A victory over the withdrawal of a threatened 'mock inspection' was won in a Tower Hamlets school after notice was given - without needing to strike.

NUT and NASUWT members at Deptford Green School in Lewisham have voted overwhelmingly to strike if their head teacher refuses to withdraw plans that could mean eight or more classroom observations a year.

Staff in Highcrest Academy in Buckinghamshire and Stratford Academy in Newham have also voted to strike in response to threats to dock their pay if they stick to the union action guidelines.

The NUT has served notice that members at those schools will strike for one day on 25 October, two days on 6 and 7 November and three days the week after that.

Waltham Forest schools

16 schools in the North East London borough of Waltham Forest could become academies and teachers at Connaught School in Leyton took two days' strike action on 16 and 24 October.

NUT members had voted unanimously for action to defend their community school from becoming a forced academy.

The head teacher is rushing ahead, pushing for a decision by the governors on 24 October, despite opposition from staff and parents.

Fighting school by school alone cannot beat back this attack. Waltham Forest Anti-Cuts Union has raised the call for a ballot of parents across Waltham Forest, and circulated a draft resolution for NUT members to consider, raising the idea of borough-wide action.

A packed meeting of 200 parents, students, former students and staff at George Mitchell school in Waltham Forest met for a celebration of the school last week.

There is a likelihood that the community school could be forced to become an academy and the staff are determined to build up a campaign in advance.

Lecturers strike

Lecturers' union UCU members were on strike at the University of East London on 18 October. After making hundreds of UEL staff redundant, management is trying to force lecturers to work longer hours and teach more students.

Already the UEL student-staff ratio is one of the highest in Britain. And the university charges the maximum fees.

This was the start of a series of one-day strikes.


The protests against the victimisation of trade union and health and safety reps on the Crossrail site in London are continuing every day. 28 workers have been sacked from the project by contractors.

Unite is fighting for workers to be employed directly rather than 'self-employed' allowing employers to avoid adhering to national agreements on the workforce's conditions.

Please protest to the employers at

For more information see the National Shop Stewards Network website:

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In The Socialist 24 October 2012:


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