Teachers in East London have taken action against school management and their bullying tactics. Union leaders should follow this example and fightback against attempts to undermine teachers and education.
Last week, staff at a school in Tower Hamlets, London, went on strike for three days. Teachers and support staff are complaining about new management practices, which involve bullying the staff. After failing to get any response to their collective grievance process, they opted for strike action.
At the beginning of the school year, the headteacher was replaced. The new head brought with him new practices that are intolerable to staff. The staff submitted a collective grievance procedure six months ago to the local authority, but no hearing has been held. It appears as though the local authority is stalling for time and hoping that teachers will resign.
Over the past decade, teachers have been facing increasing pressure at work. There has been a concerted effort at union busting, in order to break the resistance of organised teachers to cuts and privatisation.
Bullying, harassment and victimisation of union reps have become standard practices by school management around the country. The leadership of the NEU [National Education Union] and its predecessor NUT have not been prepared to take the necessary action to stop the undermining of the union.
This is not just a matter for the teachers themselves but for the whole of society. The wellbeing of the teachers is important for their ability to do their job properly. The rollout of academies is reducing the quality of education across the country.
That’s also why the action by Harbinger school teachers is so important and inspiring. It’s one of a number of schools where teachers have fought back collectively against management. They deserve the support of the local labour movement.
The Labour Party is in charge of the local council. Pressure should be brought to bear on the mayor and local councillors to support the staff.
Another day of strike is planned for next week, on 6 June.