Protest against strike breaking in Lewisham! The Labour council should support FHS workers’ struggle

Please take a few minutes to send emails of protest! (See bottom of article)

By a Lewisham teacher

Many of you will have heard of the ongoing dispute at Forest Hill School in Lewisham over cuts and the impact on teacher workload. NUT members have taken nine days of strike action in total and yet the council and school management are still unwilling to engage seriously with the union or parents to solve this dispute.

On Tuesday 20th June, the school showed outright contempt for staff and broke the law by bringing in agency supply teachers to cover during the strike. Please take a few minutes to read what’s below and act accordingly. We’re asking for messages to be sent to Mike Sullivan, headteacher, and leading council representatives. Please include details of any position you hold. Also please raise this issue within the Labour Party and the trade union movement.

1. The law is broken

Below is an extract from a letter from the NUT’s London Region which details how the decision contravened the law. Is this really the behaviour of a responsible School management?

“This appears to be a breach of Regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003. The regulation prohibits the introduction or supply of a worker to undertake the duties normally performed by a worker who is taking part in a strike action, or the duties normally performed by any other worker employed by the hirer and who is assigned by the hirer to perform the duties normally performed by the striking worker.

“The agencies concerned will be warned that any breach of regulation 7 will be reported to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (the EASI). The EASI may prosecute companies who are in breach of the 2003 Regulations.”

2. Contempt for staff and parents

The decision to do this shows contempt for staff and will only add to a difficult atmosphere in the school. Why do the school management not seriously engage with the legitimate issues raised by staff and parents rather than do everything they can to try and crush the union?

3. Money for agency staff but not to settle the dispute?

The school will have spent a significant sum of money on employing agency supply teachers to break the strike. If Mr Sullivan is so keen to balance the books, why is he spending money needlessly on agency fees?

4. A Labour Council…

All of this is taking place in a local authority school in a Labour controlled borough. Even Tory councils and academy chains have stopped short of this type of behaviour. Paul Maslin, Labour Cabinet Member for Children and Young People and Mayor Steve Bullock need to come out unequivocally to condemn this action. They should take it as a sign that Mr Sullivan is losing control of negotiations and that the council need to get back round the table to resolve the dispute.

Please take some time to send emails to the following people and make it clear that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated! Suggested text to send below.

Mike Sullivan (FHS head teacher)
info@foresthillschool.co.uk

Paul Maslin (Cabinet member for Children and Young People)
cllr_paul.maslin@lewisham.gov.uk

Mayor Steve Bullock
steve.bullock@lewisham.gov.uk

***

Suggested draft email to send

I am emailing you to protest in the strongest terms about the illegal use of agency teachers to scab on the Forest Hill teachers strike.

The NUT group at the school is fighting to defend the school and the education of their students.

Using agency staff is illegal, as the NUT London Region wrote: “This appears to be a breach of Regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003. The regulation prohibits the introduction or supply of a worker to undertake the duties normally performed by a worker who is taking part in a strike action, or the duties normally performed by any other worker employed by the hirer and who is assigned by the hirer to perform the duties normally performed by the striking worker.

“The agencies concerned will be warned that any breach of regulation 7 will be reported to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (the EASI). The EASI may prosecute companies who are in breach of the 2003 Regulations.”

But more than being illegal it is a move that shows contempt for the teachers, the union and the pupils. It will make the atmosphere within the school even worse.

Perhaps most importantly it is against the values of the labour movement.

This must never happen again.

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