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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2022

Newham college strike solid against bully privatisers

NewVic strikers. Photo: East London Socialist Party

NewVic strikers. Photo: East London Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

James Ivens, London Socialist Party

Strikers are ready to go the distance and beat 'academisation' at Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) in east London. Action restarted on 11 January after the Christmas break.

The strike is solid, with all but one department out. Its scale has forced management to close for all student functions except exams. The mood on the picket line is determination to see this through.

The National Education Union (NEU) won a stonking 98% vote for strikes against a bullying culture and privatisation before the first walkouts last term. As a result of leading a fight, the college's NEU group has grown to over 100.

Principal and 'chief executive' Mandeep Gill is starting to show the strain. Pickets reported that on 10 January he forced staff to endure an unhinged, one-way rant against the strike at a compulsory after-hours meeting.

It only helped the union's cause. But reps and strikers will nonetheless be holding an open meeting for all staff, to put the other side that Gill doesn't want them to hear.

This is not likely to be a quick battle. Newham NEU has fought multiple struggles to stop privately run 'academies'. The experience is that education bosses with pound signs in their eyes can take a while to defeat.

Certainly, the boss at NewVIc seems happy to waste staff and students' time. January talks at conciliation service Acas resulted in his surprise claim that governors instructed him to withdraw an offered moratorium on privatisation... in mid-December.

Management has been in communication with the union repeatedly in that time. There was no mention of this rather important development. Some pickets speculated that the governors themselves may be unaware of their apparent instruction to the principal.

Newham NEU secretary and executive and Socialist Party member Louise Cuffaro has led earlier campaigns that won Newham's right-wing Labour council to an official anti-academies position. Two Labour councillors came to the 11 January rally to offer the council's support.

This is very welcome. But will the local authority offer more than fine words? Will Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz get on the phone to NewVIc management and tell them to stop? Will the council write to all staff, parents and students opposing the move?

Will the mayor and councillors stand with strikers on the picket lines? Will they demand space in the Newham Recorder? Socialist Party members made these proposals - we hope Newham Council takes its anti-academy policy seriously.

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In The Socialist 19 January 2022:


What we think

Tories on the ropes


News

Want to fight austerity?

No trust in Tories to keep us safe

Tories hand cash to private health profiteers

Tory vaccine sacking threat set to deepen NHS staffing crisis

Employers use vaccine excuse to attack sick pay

News in brief


International news

Murder of Ashling Murphy sends shocks waves across Ireland and beyond

Northern Ireland: Workers fight threatened closure of women's hostel

US: Independent Socialist Group launches new paper

Eyewitness account of workers' uprising in Almaty, Kazakhstan


Public services

Mutual aid, the welfare state and the fight for a new mass workers' party


Marxist classics

Why are things the way they are?


Rob Windsor

Rob Windsor - remembering a tireless fighter for socialism


Theatre

Theatre: Yes Yes UCS


Workplace news

Sheffield Just Eat couriers speak about strike

S Yorks Stagecoach strike results in "huge pay win"

Scunthorpe scaffs resume indefinite strike action

Coventry bin strike continues

Bus driver Tracey Scholes reinstated at Go North West

Royal Mail: Unofficial walkouts precede bigger battle to come on pay and workload

Newham college strike solid against bully privatisers

Somers Forge workers continue pay strike

Workplace news in brief


Campaigns

NUS walkout: Organise to fight for free education on 2 March

Demonstrating against the Tory anti-protest bill

Waltham Forest: Campaign unites families facing eviction

Newham council rejects using 0.03% of reserves to fund arts

Birmingham: Cuts consultations replaced by computer game

Southampton uni ignores staff and students in exam farce

Oliver Campbell - 31 years fighting for justice

Bournemouth - angry people not represented by capitalist parties

Pauline Wall memorial meeting


 

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Related links:

Newham:

triangleNewham City Farm - closed with no consultation

triangleVictory at NewVIc college! 'The picket line gives us power'

triangleNewham council rejects using 0.03% of reserves to fund arts

triangleTrinity Centre: Shameful eviction by Newham council

triangleNewham Sixth Form College begins strike against academisation

Strike:

triangleWorkers and students unite and fight

triangleRail workers strike in Sheffield

triangleJust Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

triangleBarts NHS workers to walk out again on 28 February

College:

triangleLondon colleges victory

triangleCollege strikes continue into third week

triangleCoordinated FE strike against measly pay offer

NEU:

triangleOaks Park School: valiant strike exposed state of schools

triangleOrganise to win the NEU's 8% pay demand

Council:

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