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From The Socialist newspaper, 23 June 2021

Oaks Park school strike stands strong against bully bosses

Workers on strike to defend victimised reps at Oak Park school

Workers on strike to defend victimised reps at Oak Park school   (Click to enlarge)

James Ivens, East London Socialist Party

Bully bosses looked agitated as Oaks Park High School pickets belted out 'Solidarity Forever' to the peals of a union rep's trumpet on 22 June.

That Tuesday was the second strike day at the council-run secondary in Redbridge, east London. The National Education Union (NEU) is defending a sacked rep and three other staff victimised for exercising 'Section 44' health-and-safety rights.

Assistant heads policed the gates like bouncers. Students filed past a loud and spirited picket line demanding: "Stop the bullying!" The culture under the new head has led to the departure of many longer-standing staff and fear in the workplace.

The borough's Labour council has opposed the union, siding with the bullying senior leadership team. As we go to press, strikers plan to march on Redbridge Town Hall on 23 June. If Labour councillors refuse to stand up for workers, trade unionists should consider standing independent candidates against them.

The strike has caused significant disruption, with classes packed together in the sports hall. This flies in the face of Covid safety as case numbers rise - and underlines management's blasť attitude to student and staff welfare. Bosses even brought back older students with the promise of a free lunch to supervise 'sports day', as cover for the striking staff!

Despite the culture of fear and strike-breaking efforts, numbers on the picket line remain strong. But naturally, the bullying is not limited to the staff.

One picket told the strike rally that a senior manager had recently remarked on a student's skirt length: "Don't you have any dignity?" Standing up for herself, the student asked "does it make you uncomfortable, sir?" He reportedly replied: "Extremely!"

School workers were outraged at this sexist attack. They also noted that white students with skirts of the same length were not subjected to similar comments.

Louise Cuffaro, newly elected to the NEU's national executive committee, joined fellow Socialist Party members on the picket line. "The very solidarity you're feeling here is the solidarity you should be feeling every single day in the staff room!"

But "you have to fight to get the time to get the break in the staff room!" The fights against bullying and intolerable workload are fights the NEU must take up nationally.

The next planned strike days are Tuesday 29 June to Thursday 1 July.

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In The Socialist 23 June 2021:

What we think

Chesham and Amersham by-election


NHS in crisis - 'It's time for action'

Outsourced London hospital workers fight for better pay

Leicester private healthcare tragedy

Exeter Trades Council backs NHS protests


Northern Ireland and Brexit

Sacking non-vaccinated care workers will not save lives

Furlough reduction risks job losses

Building back better? Fight for a socialist recovery

Anti-protest bill breaches human rights

Tories deliberately underfund childcare

Unite election

Unite general secretary contest: Vote for Sharon Graham

NSSN conference 2021

NSSN conference 2021: When given a lead workers will fight


Women and the criminal 'injustice' system

Tory review won't deliver justice for rape victims


Iran's presidential election

Are Biden's immigration policies a break with Trump's?

Workplace news

Interview with newly elected Unison NEC member and hospital worker

Gateshead: Bosses sack sparks protesting for safety measures

Oaks Park school strike against bully bosses

Leicestershire engineers' fifth week of strikes against fire and rehire

DVLA dispute: Escalation needed

Warehouse workers fight 50% cut in redundancy pay

Carmarthenshire: Fighting for trade union recognition at council-owned company


TUSC calls for local 'People's Budget' campaigns

Youth Fight For Jobs: more urgent than ever

London Socialist Party young members' day school

'Socialism is the hope of the world'

Fighting Fund target smashed!

Readers' Opinion

Book review: Shuggie Bain

Response to Observer article on China


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Related links:


trianglePublic sector pay - Prepare for action!

triangleDagenham school workers strike against 'fire and rehire' pay cuts

triangleOaks Park strikers rally

triangleBrighton: Moulsecoomb strike against academisation

triangleEnd bullying and victimisation at Oaks Park school


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triangleSt Mungo's strikers end 12-week strike


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triangleSt Mungo's strikers fight on

triangleSt Mungo's workers walkout


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