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** j30 - Generalise the Strike - Day of action against the cuts **

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Choccy's picture
Choccy
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Jun 26 2011 09:46

Yeah Steven you assume I work in a normal school, not an academy, Jef is partially right, though I think saying they'll be fired i too far, as it has no precedent in our lace either way. Defo better to call in sick in our work unless they can get a critical mass of peple refusing to cross, which we'd love to foster, and will try to, but people lack a collective memory of what pickets are for, which will take struggle to build up. We have had 3 people forced out this year for various reasons, we are lacking militancy and consciousness and working in an ideologically driven school, which I've written about plenty of times before. Only 3 schools in our borough aren't academies, and they're all potentially becoming so ( though are fighting it). Some of the academies won't even have a picket they're so afraid. Academies really do have that hostile a management.

I can guarantee you anyone refusing to cross will be pursued by management as they are particularly hostile and our parent sponsor is fairly well-versed 'disciplining' employees. It represents a weakness on our part obviously bu we are starting from a really shitty starting point.

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Choccy
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Jun 26 2011 09:53
Steven. wrote:
Choccy, somewhere like a school I would think in most instances you will be better off refusing to cross a picket line than calling in sick. As in any possible disciplinary action which results, dishonesty would count against you more than anything else

Where am I being dishonest? I made two factual claims: Is it not true that you can self-certify for 5 days? Is it not true that exceptions cannot be made for sick-days that happen to coincide with idustrial action?
It's precisely because I won't lie to them that I'm picking my words carefully. I assure you our management will view refusing to cross much worse than a sick day given the nature of our sponsor.
Most of those non-striking are Unison, perhaps on the day you can have a word with them or if I organised a meeting you'd come in? We could use all the clarification possible.

mons
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Jun 26 2011 10:34

I think Steven meant the dishonesty of calling in sick would count against the worker, not that you were being dishonest.
Our school's being closed down for everyone apart from year 12's, most likely. So me and some students are trying to organise a party of year 12's on the day so nobody goes in. The only other support staff I've spoken to have said they will come in if the school's open sad

Choccy's picture
Choccy
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Jun 26 2011 10:42

Ah I get you, that makes sense Steven. Though I think saying disciplinary action resulting from a sick-day sounds like scaremongering. I think Steven's thinking on this reflects the part of the public sector where he works, not a school owned by a private sector multinational bank.
Our school will likely be closed to students but support staff being asked to come in. We will be asking them not cross the picket and hopefully it'll be big enough and persuasive enough.

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Steven.
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Jun 26 2011 11:27

Choccy, Mons is right, I wasn't calling you dishonest at all! I was saying that. Falsely claiming sickness I would think would get you in more trouble than refusing to cross picket lines on health and safety/moral conviction reasons, due to the dishonesty element, as dishonesty/lack of trust can be a reason for disciplinary action.

However, you will have a better understanding of the situation in your school than I.

Jef, on the legalities of not crossing picket lines, we have had some quite lengthy discussions elsewhere recently, which I will try to find and link to later, but I think people would generally be pretty unlikely to be fired for not crossing (and that would have to happen to everyone who didn't).

I wouldn't be able to attend a meeting this week during work time, as I'm at work - and to be honest I couldn't provide much clarification one way or another. You're probably best seeing how this strike goes and how management reacts - because individual management have a lot of leeway in terms of what they do.

One thing which support staff can do, if there is not enough mood to refuse to cross is get to work a bit early, gather on the picket line with you guys, then at the start of work all march in together.

People have done that in my Council, and it does function to show management that you are all together

Mons, that sounds great about your school and the party, so let us know how it goes!

At my Council, in areas where there won't be picket lines (i.e. all of it except schools) we are encouraging people to take annual leave or toil to support strike activities, but take-up is pretty low. Mostly we are going to use this strike to build a profile of our pensions defence campaign.

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Choccy
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Jun 26 2011 11:41

Cheers, i think that gives us food for thought. We're gonna try and have a joint meeting this week by Weds. From discussions so far, a few TAs don't want to cross but are afraid of consequences and given that a third of teachers (the NASUWT lot) are anti-strike (some left NUT in previous schools because they refused to take part 2008 strike) there's the potential to persuade a few not to cross but not a ground=swell and they would atomised so the suggestion above might be more palatable.
We'll see how discussion goes, if it look grim, I'll put forward that idea.

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Steven.
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Jun 26 2011 11:49

Yeah, you could even do that plus some people could still call in sick if they wanted to. If people are going to call in sick they should exchange phone numbers so they can check with each other in the morning they are definitely going to do it.

The good thing about picket lines is you can see your numbers, and see who crosses, whereas at home individuals may lose their nerve.

Good luck!

I'd like to hear from other people about what is going on at their workplaces - anyone?

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 26 2011 13:40

My workplace is technically eligible for UCU membership, but doesn't have even one union member. No discussion of the strikes and in fact, the summer term starts tomorrow, which represents high season so it'll be a complete madhouse with loads of new and temporary staff. I myself am starting a second job in the mornings as a summer temp so I'm gonna have make 2 calls on Thursday morning. wink

On the upside (well, downside really), a combination of Home Office squeezing and tyrannical management has forced through a new timetable, which demands 2.25hr classes WITH NO BREAK! I've been canvassing around colleagues who are sick to death of the shit here, and we're hoping to organise an out of school meeting.

Sorry, I know it's not directly related to the strike, but I think it's important that we maintain some perspective here. One of the biggest problems with the workers' movement - and one that practically no group has really been able to address - is its rejection of the casualised private sector in favour of the unionised parts of the public sector. All these discussions about unions really have very little relevance to my workplace tbh.

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 26 2011 13:41
mons wrote:
So me and some students are trying to organise a party of year 12's on the day so nobody goes in.

Us too in SE14, let us know if we can help at all!

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Serge Forward
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Jun 26 2011 14:08
jef costello wrote:
I was told that you can be fired for striking if you are not in the union

You can be fired for pretty much anything but whether it would be lawful is another matter. Secondary action is unlawful, however, we're not talking about secondary action but workers who may not be union members striking with those who are in a union when they have the same employer. The law states that workers cannot be discriminated against for their membership or non membership of a trade union. So, for an employer to dicipline one employee for striking while not disciplining another (based on union membership) would be deemed discriminatory or less favourable treatment. In short, fuck em.

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Jun 27 2011 13:25
Serge Forward wrote:
jef costello wrote:
I was told that you can be fired for striking if you are not in the union

You can be fired for pretty much anything but whether it would be lawful is another matter. Secondary action is unlawful, however, we're not talking about secondary action but workers who may not be union members striking with those who are in a union when they have the same employer. The law states that workers cannot be discriminated against for their membership or non membership of a trade union. So, for an employer to dicipline one employee for striking while not disciplining another (based on union membership) would be deemed discriminatory or less favourable treatment. In short, fuck em.

Thanks for clarifying this (and Steven as well). I was specifically told at a recent meeting that striking without being a union member was a sackable offence. I also forgot that they'd have to sack everybody (not impossible) who did it. Would that also include any unauthorised time off? I'm assuming strike action is gross misconduct on the grounds of not working rather than some specific act of misconduct.

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Chilli Sauce
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Jun 27 2011 16:40

Striking is a "breach of contract", much like a "no call, no show" (as they say in the States). So just regular misconduct.

Jason Cortez
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Jun 27 2011 18:30

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/52/section/237

jef costello's picture
jef costello
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Jun 27 2011 19:15

Thanks Jason, although I'm not sure I entirely get it.

Quote:
(2)A strike or other industrial action is unofficial in relation to an employee unless—(a)he is a member of a trade union and the action is authorised or endorsed by that union, or(b)he is not a member of a trade union but there are among those taking part in the industrial action members of a trade union by which the action has been authorised or endorsed.
Provided that, a strike or other industrial action shall not be regarded as unofficial if none of those taking part in it are members of a trade union.

The first part means strike action is unofficial unless some of the strikers are in a union that has endorsed the strike, but the italicised part I am confused by.the last part.

slothjabber
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Jun 27 2011 20:10

Unless there's a typo, it seems to mean in whole that 'unofficial' strikes are only unofficial if trades union members take action not endorsed by the union. If there are no union members taking part it seems to say it isn't 'unofficial' (because it can be neither 'official' nor 'unofficial'?) as there is no union not to give its blessing.

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jef costello
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Jun 27 2011 20:21

That seems to make sense, thanks slothjabber.

slothjabber
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Jun 27 2011 20:30

I'd take my interpretation with a pinch of salt though. I mean, that's what it seems to say, but just because something is logical, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's true.