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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 May 2021

Beal High School strike against punitive sick policy resumes

Picket line at Beal academy. Photo: Glenn Kelly

Picket line at Beal academy. Photo: Glenn Kelly   (Click to enlarge)

East London Socialist Party

Beal High School workers have walked out for a further five days against a punitive, two-tier sick pay policy. Dozens upon dozens of pickets at England's largest secondary - with over 2,600 students - demand: don't punish the sick! The National Education Union has more action planned if management won't do the right thing.

Talks on Friday 30 April did not resolve the dispute. Had bosses been serious about negotiating, they would have called talks on the Monday, before the first two days of post-Easter action.

However, a meeting with 70 parents earlier in the week was more productive. They were angered that management had not warned them of the strike days or explained the issues properly.

Staff employed after 2016 are entitled to a fraction of the sick pay of other employees. The NEU members are also angry that, even when the school accepts they are genuinely sick, they can face disciplinary action or being treated as poor teachers.

The cost of resolving these injustices to this privately run 'academy' school is minimal. Informed parents have now sent the union's side of things to hundreds of others.

As a result, many parents emailed the head. Chief executive Kathryn Burns responded by trying to push parents into individual discussions! These are the same isolating and intimidating tactics so many bosses try to use on staff.

The action has forced the school to begin a process of talks through mediation service Acas. But NEU regional officer Glenn Kelly says the union intends to keep the action on until there is a serious offer.

As we go to press, strikers are due to march from the school to the nearby office of Labour MP Wes Streeting, shadow education secretary.

His absence from the picket line so far is notable, but not surprising. School workers, parents and students after an electoral alternative that backs workers' struggles should look to the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

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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.
  • 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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In The Socialist 5 May 2021:


What we think

Capitalist sleaze and cronyism


Union elections

Unite general secretary election nomination stage

Unison: We need a fighting, democratic, member-led union to stop the austerity attacks

Four Socialist Party members elected to NEU executive - a thirst for action and a fighting leadership


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Biden's policies will not solve underlying US crisis

Colombia: Mass trade union-led protests force tax retreat


Mental health

Covid, capitalism and mental health


News

Fight the rotten establishment

Hands off our NHS

New law ignores economic barriers to escaping domestic abuse

Cladding: Tories refuse to protect leaseholders again


Workplace news

St Mungo's strikers fight on

Goodlord strike forces talks - solidarity needed

Sparks block Cardiff building site against deskilling

Vote 'yes' in the PCS DWP ballot

Beal High School strike against sick policy resumes

Go Ahead offers deal to Manchester bus drivers

Metroline buses to face summer of strikes unless it drops 'remote sign-on'


Local government

Can the 'Preston model' beat the cuts?


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Police attempt to intimidate Newcastle protesters

Nottingham NHS pay protest

Establishing factory sales of the Socialist in Leicester

Plaque dedicated to Tony Mulhearn

Why you should join the Socialist Party

Defend the right to protest - to resist bosses' attacks


Readers' opinion

The Socialist Inbox


 

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