Demonstrate in support of Ricky Jones and his family, Saturday April 26th (12pm Stoke Newington Common)Posted: April 3, 2008
For 10 years Ricky Jones has been the caretaker at William Patten Primary School in Stoke Newington Church Street. He and his family face eviction from their home because the school’s governors say there is no longer a need for a residential caretaker.
Ricky lives in the school grounds with wife, Lisa, a teacher at nearby Princess May Primary School, and his three children, two of whom also attend William Patten Primary.
Ricky is also the Unison Convenor for Hackney Education. If this proposal goes ahead it will be the final act in a series of acts of victimisation which Ricky has endured because he is an effective trade unionist.
Brian Debus, chairman of the Hackney branch of Unison, said: “If they manage to get away with removing Ricky from his post, this will be a precedent move for all residential caretakers.”
London Coalition Against Poverty presents a free afternoon workshop: How to Enforce Your Rights at Work
- Knowing your rights at work
- Why we should organise at work
- How to organise your workplace
The day will consist of:
First session: ‘Exploring Workers’ Rights’: looking at basic rights; where to find sources of information; exploring what rights apply in particular scenarios. Participants will receive a booklet containing what has been covered.
Second session: ‘The Whys and Hows of Organising’: the first workshop will be ‘Why organise at work?’, looking at the reasons why we need to organise to enforce our rights and the other benefits of organising; the second will be ‘How we organise’, focusing on the nuts and bolts of organising, looking at different ways of working collectively, their strengths and weaknesses.
Saturday 22 March 2008
12-5.00pm, LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, E1 1ES
(Please bring food for lunch, refreshments provided.)
more info: 07932 241737
French multinational company Sodexho has been forced to stop paying poverty wages to their canteen staff at Haggerston School. From September the canteen staff will be paid the London living wage and over the next year, their wages will increase to £9 an hour achieving equality with their fellow workers in another Hackney school.
The victory was achieved after a very successful one-day strike in
June. On the day of the strike the catering workers set up a picket
line and 35 teachers and 2 technicians refused to cross the picket
line. Sodexho attempted to smash the strike by bringing in managers
to run the kitchens. However, due to the support of the teachers,
most pupils had to be sent home.
The school is tied into a PFI contract with Sodexho who built a
canteen in return for a long-term contract. Sodexho then complained
that they weren’t making enough profit due to the government’s
healthy eating initiative. This was their justification for paying
their staff less than the minimum wage.
The teachers and technicians who refused to cross the picket line on
the day of the strike were threatened with disciplinary action by
the school’s head teacher. They were given letters instructing them
to attend individual interviews and warning them that they were
being investigated for misconduct or gross misconduct – which could
lead to dismissal.
The trade unionists received excellent support from across the
country from rank and file activists and other militants.
Unfortunately they were not supported by the National Union of
Teachers. The General Secretary, Steve Sinnott, wrote to the 35 NUT
members who had not crossed the picket line, warning them that if
they did it again they would be sacked! This was the fourth
repudiation letter NUT members had received during the dispute.
NUT members were however supported by the local branch of the union,
who agreed to represent all NUT members at these disciplinary
hearings. At the very first interview, the management were asked to
produce the disciplinary policy they were using. After a farcical
hour of ransacking filing cabinets, the management were unable to
produce the disciplinary policy or any record of one having been
adopted. The interviews were therefore cancelled.
Despite this embarrassment, the head teacher waited until the day
before the summer holidays to inform “the accused” that any threat
of disciplinary action had been withdrawn. Citing the resolution of
the dispute between the catering staff and Sodexho as well as the
need for good staff relations, rather than their own ineptitude,
staff were informed that no disciplinary action would be taken –
unless it happens again!
The victory of the catering staff and the solidarity shown by the
teachers and technicians at Haggerston shows that strike action can
win – even when we are fighting a multinational company involved in
privatisation. And whatever the anti-union laws might say, the
words “you don’t cross picket lines” remain fundamental to all
workers in struggle.
Members of Unite – the union at Haggerston School – are to strike on Wednesday June 27 in a bid to increase their pay above the national minimum wage.
The kitchen staff – employed by contractors Sodexho – are paid nearly £4 an hour less than other similar staff across the Borough.
“We have done everything we could to avoid a strike,” said Unite T&G Section regional industrial organiser Paul Fawcett. “We have been delaying implementation of the strike decision by our members in the hope that Sodexho would see sense and pay our members a fair wage. We suggested staging an increase.
“But it has all been a waste of time, unfortunately. The company is behaving like dinosaurs from the least enlightened period of British management, with absolutely no interest in justice or social responsibility.”
For further information please call the T&G section of
Unite Press Office on 020 7611 2550
Despite the appointment of new broom managing director, Max Caller, who last year vowed to “Hackney’s house in order”, it is still business as usual in the benighted east london borough.
In the council where Paedophile social worker, Mark Trotter was allowed to carry on abusing children for years in the 1980s until he died of AIDS, a senior officer involved in the care of children and subject of a police investigation has been quietly allowed to resign.
Meanwhile Caller has been sitting for 4 months on a report by borough solicitor Chris Hinde into allegations of corruption in the Stamford Hill planning committee involving the Borough’s Tory Mayor Joe Lowenstein, first aired in Eye 981, July 1999. The report must be a thorough one. It took Hinde, who coincidentally used to be secretary of the former Dalston city partnership regeneration quango, of which Lobenstein was a director, more than a year to produce.
At least some Hackney officers are quicker off the mark. After NUT members at just one Hackney school, Stoke Newington comprehensive, voted in December not to cross picket lines duringa one-day strike by non-teaching unions against proposed budget cuts and redundancies, their general secretary, Doug McAvoy wrote to them pointing out that such a vote endorsed unlawful secondary action.
Officers in Hackney’s education department then copied McAvoy’s letter, with the recipient school’s name blanked out, and faxed it to every school in the borough, giving the impression that McAvoy was on the side of the local education authority in a dispute he in fact wanted to keep out of. That’s the kind of enterprise Hackney needs!