James Ivens, East London Socialist Party
Defiant Oaks Park school workers hit the ground running with a picket line of over 30 on 2 November. The first strike day after the half-term break followed fresh insults from bosses.
National Education Union members at the secondary in Redbridge, east London, have been striking against management bullying since summer. But in a letter to parents after half-term, the head claimed this issue was news to her!
She dismissed her staff’s “false narrative” as having given “no evidence”. She knows full well that the Labour council responsible for Oaks Park received a whole dossier of evidence months ago. Recent negotiations – which she broke off – included attempts to agree an independent inquiry!
Meanwhile, pickets told the Socialist that right before half-term yet another staff member was forced out. It would seem he is just the latest victim of the bullying culture at Oaks Park, joining sacked rep Keiran Mahon and countless others.
Louise Cuffaro, NEU executive and Socialist Party member, joined the picket line again on its 24th day. “I’ve asked a few of you what should I be saying to the top of the union? And people say ‘support’ – and you do have support. But actually, real support by the union is national action.
“The victimisation and bullying at this school is replicated everywhere. If we can have some national action, like we had with ‘Section 44’, then I believe all these things would be driven back. The national union needs to show that we will stand up and fight.
“And I raise pay, and I raise workload – because that’s really where the bullying comes from. If we’re going to fight back on pay, workload, and the bullying culture that encompasses that, we’re going to need national action. The union now needs to move to do a national ballot.”
A growing number of parents are getting organised, and due to meet soon. And having been ignored by their Labour council and MP, strikers will take the fight to London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan.
Join the rally outside City Hall on Monday 15 November at 5.30pm. Strikes are due to continue every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until 25 November.