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Hands off our schools!
OVER 100 people assembled for the Hands Off Hackney Schools campaign meeting on 8 February. They were showing their opposition to the new education White Paper (see editorial page 2) and to Hackney being used as a test ground for academy schools.
Haggerston girls' school parent Judy Beishon explained how Haggerston school was first threatened with the choice of becoming an academy, foundation or mixed-sex school.
Parents, teachers, support staff and students overwhelmingly opposed all three proposals, so the first two were dropped. But a 'Hands off Haggerston' campaign was still running against a change to mixed-sex status which parents oppose.
Hackney Learning Trust's arguments are flawed, Judy said, especially their claim that most parents want mixed-sex academies instead of the present variety of community schools.
Suzanne Beishon from Hackney International Socialist Resistance (ISR) spoke of the action pupils had taken throughout the campaign, which ISR helped to organise. Suzanne said students were poorly treated and not consulted. They planned two further protests for when the decisions on Homerton's closure and Haggerston's future are made.
Ricky Jones of Hackney Unison said the Mossbourne academy school already set up in the borough puts middle-class families from outside Hackney before working-class children living next door. Twenty students had applied from local estates but only one got in!
Former Labour MP and left leader Tony Benn had spoken earlier. He may have hoped that the Labour Party can be reclaimed but the White Paper again shows the need for a new workers' party that represents ordinary people and not millionaires.
Hackney Library workers strike
UNISON MEMBERS in Hackney libraries took half-day strike action on 7 February over weekend working conditions. "The strike had a big effect with over 75% of staff taking part in the action" said Hackney UNISON chair Brian Debus.
Employers want to go back on their agreement with UNISON in 2003. This includes a pay cut by removing Saturday enhanced pay and forcing people to work at weekends at the weekday pay rate.
Library workers now plan to continue action by working strictly to job descriptions and not moving site to fill in for sick leave or other absences.
In The Socialist 16 February 2006: