Coventry teacher ‘We need to highlight homelessness’

Coventry teacher ‘We need to highlight homelessness’

edgwick

Campaigners outside Edgwick Play Centre – defending play facilities and homes is critical

The following was a speech written by a delegate from Coventry to the NUT conference. Unfortunately due to time constraints the speech wasn’t made, however we are publishing it on our website as it raises some critical issues for our city.


 

This week I sat with one of my students as he described with glee that he had moved into a new home. He showed me photographs of his new home and talked about how he could now fly his remote control helicopter in his living room. A month ago he was a completely different child. He lived in one room with his family in a hostel.

A hostel that provided nothing, not enough beds, no cooking facilities and washing facilities that were shared amongst many families. Every day he arrived late as he had to travel across the city to school.

Despite the conditions he has been living in, he always smiles, but he has found it incredibly hard to cope with school. Learning has not been important as his priorities have been led by basic needs. In the past month, since being rehoused, he has made more progress than he has made in the previous six months. He has started to speak more confidently and read and write.

As teachers, we know that if children are living in poverty and deprivation, it will adversely affect their mental health and in turn their learning. In this data driven education system, this is one thing that can be measured. But we are told that this is irrelevant and all children in Primary should be working at the same level. It’s crazy.

There are an increasing number of children in exactly the same position in my school. In Coventry, in the last year, 290 homes were repossessed. The CAB has recorded a 100% rise in enquiries on homelessness.

Many of these will have been from families with school age children. The main reasons for this, the CAB quotes, is the changes to benefits and benefit sanctions which have led to sanctions that have meant that many cannot pay rent or mortgages and stay in their home.

We need to highlight homelessness in the same way as we have raised the use of food banks in Coventry. The publication of the numbers of our children and families living with constant transience and homelessness should shame this government in exactly the same way. Forcing them to resign and pull back on benefit sanctions.

We need to fight the austerity cuts locally, whoever they are carried out by. Cuts that are removing homelessness support services and money for refuges that are the last line of support for many of these families.

We need to shame the landlords that are profiting from this situation and that are evicting our families. Shame the banks that are repossessing homes. We need to defend those who face eviction. We need to demand that all our children have a right to safety, to a home and to an education that is not fractured because of government policy.

 

 

 

Teachers want action from their trade union – views from a Coventry teacher

Teachers want action from their trade union – views from a Coventry teacher

Joint action between NUT and NASUWT at John Gulson Primary in Coventry

Joint action between NUT and NASUWT at John Gulson Primary in Coventry

The following piece was written by a teacher from Coventry and was carried in the latest issue of ‘The Socialist’ newspaper. Since it was published a majority on the National Executive have voted to oppose taking joint industrial action on 14 October.

You can read more about this disappointing decision here.

If you are in a teacher and member of the NUT and want to help build the fight for co-ordinated action in the union, please fill in the form at the bottom of the article.

 


 

By Nicky Downes

At my school in Coventry a number of staff have been out on strike, picketed, attended marches and rallies each time the National Union of Teachers (NUT) have been on strike.

Although the concessions we have won so far have been relatively small, the understanding is still there that we must continue the action until we win improvements in pay and pensions, an end to Performance Related Pay and improvements to workload.

The local NUT executive in Coventry has, before each strike, lobbied the union’s national executive to make sure the action is continued and escalated. This important action has been mentioned at national executive meetings. Other local associations should do the same.

Continuing with the odd day’s strike will not win. There is a mood for escalating to two days of action or more if necessary. This does, however, need to be built for.

The NUT will be surveying its members over the next few weeks to judge the mood. This is after a break when struggling to work 60 hour weeks has not been an issue. During this time the only communications from the union have been adverts for a week’s break at the union owned Stoke Rochford Hall,and for insurance. It would have been a good time to take stock of what we have achieved so far and to build for action in October.

Teachers in my school and across the country will be both angry and surprised if we do not strike with other public sector workers on 14 October. It’s interesting that the survey won’t be finished by then. I hope this means that the union already feels committed to striking on that date and the survey will merely be to confirm the necessity for further, and likely escalating, action in the future.

 

University Workers to Strike Back

University Workers to Strike Back

UCU banner

UCU banner

By A Socialist Party Member in UCU in the Coventry area

31 October will be a day of coordinated strike action by UCU, Unison and Unite members working in Universities. This is the first UK-wide joint action between these Higher Education unions, demonstrating the anger that their members feel about the employers’ insulting 1% pay increase.

Even pro-capitalist commentator Will Hutton, writing in the Observer notes that “The real wages of academics have fallen by 13% since 2008, one of the largest sustained wage cuts any profession has suffered since the Second World War.” This is despite the scandalously high fees charged to students, which have subsidised lavish pay at the upper echelons of University management while ordinary teaching, research, and support staff struggle.

We want a publicly funded system of Higher Education, free at the point of use and paying a fair wage to its workers. In addition to real-terms pay cuts, casualisation of all jobs is rife in the sector, including use of fixed-term, hourly-paid and even the now-infamous ‘zero hours’ contracts. This job insecurity together with management bullying and excessive workloads will also motivate UCU members to undertake a ‘work to contract’ following the strike day.

Many student organisations, including official students’ unions, have offered support. It will be vital to build on these links and make clear to students that this industrial action strengthens their fight for free education, particularly if exam marking ends up being affected. Already propaganda about the USS pension scheme has tried to pit students against staff – in fact this scheme is healthy in any reasonable measure, and a bizarre accounting practice is being used to claim students will end up ‘bailing out’ their lecturers’ pensions. Nothing could be further from the truth, but this and similar falsehoods will be peddled by the ConDem Government and their media chums if the dispute continues.

This and other elements of a serious fighting strategy could see a victory in the form of a significantly improved pay offer. But ultimately the dispute has arisen from the politics of austerity and we need to make links with other unions – our members already look to the disputes that other unions are involved in -and the call for a one-day general strike against austerity is gaining ground. Socialists in Higher Education unions will fight to make it a reality.

Coventry trade unionists join massive protest at Tory Party conference in Manchester

Coventry trade unionists join massive protest at Tory Party conference in Manchester

Coventry Trades Council on the march

Coventry Trades Council on the march

Dozens of trade union members from Coventry and Warwickshire joined over 50,000 protestors today in Manchester against the Conservative Party conference. The annual gathering of the Tories was met by this huge protest made up of people disgusted with capitalist austerity. The start of the demonstration was delayed for some time due to the numbers arriving from all over the country. The protest was called against the privatisation of the NHS, and this was the main focus. However it was also an outlet for anger against many government policies – including the attacks on other public services and the bedroom tax.

Socialist Party trade union activists from NUT and Unite

Socialist Party trade union activists from NUT and Unite

There were huge contingents from many different unions, as well as student organisations. The march took place as teachers in the NUT and NASUWT prepare for action next week, as CWU members get ready to defeat Royal Mail privatisation, and the FBU who took action last week. This was a brilliant turnout in Manchester – now we need to link up and co-ordinate industrial action across the whole economy building for a 24 hour general strike.

Socialist Party members distributed thousands of leaflets outlining the way forward for the trade union movement and sold many copies of ‘The Socialist’ newspaper.