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Posted on 17 December 2019 at 16:45 GMT

Newham anti-academies rally 26 February 2018, photo Niall Mulholland

Newham anti-academies rally 26 February 2018, photo Niall Mulholland   (Click to enlarge)

Anti-academy strikes in Newham

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) at St Angela's and St Michael's Catholic schools in Newham, East London, were on strike on 11 December against being forced into becoming privately run academies.

There's no evidence that academies improve schools. And they have been used to worsen terms and conditions for education workers.

The striking workers had a meeting with a wealth of experience in the room, including joint Newham NEU branch secretary Louise Cuffaro who helped lead the campaign that blocked the academisation of Avenue primary school in 2018. Parents' support was hugely important at Avenue. But it was strike action by staff that made the difference. They balloted for action as soon as they caught wind of academisation.

Socialist Party member Niall Mulholland addressed the 11 December striking teachers' meeting. He described how he helped lead a parents' campaign in support of striking teachers at Stratford Academy, also in Newham, in 2012. That strike beat 33% pay cuts.

Louise pointed out that previous teachers' and parents' action pressurised Newham's Labour council to oppose academisation. The council should immediately intervene to help stop academisation.

The diocese must withdraw its attempt to force schools into joining the multi-academy trust and the schools' governors must abandon the academisation drive. If they don't, five more days of strikes are planned for the new year.

Ian Pattison, East London Socialist Party

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 17 December 2019 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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