Roehampton school threatened with strike action

Local school to suffer as Unison staff strike for increase in London weighting

Children at Heathmere School in Roehampton are to get an unscheduled holiday this month. Union chiefs have ordered their members to take strike action at the schools for a two week period commencing on Monday, November 10. Support staff at these schools are not expected to return to work until Monday, November 24.

The council have told us that they are working closely with head teachers and governors to ensure that disruption to the children's education is kept to a minimum.

As well as support staff at the school, union members in the homeless persons unit have also been instructed to take strike action. Other housing department staff will cover striking union members to try and ensure that homeless people receive the emergency help they need.

The industrial action is being taken by Unison members across the capital as part of their ongoing campaign for increases in London weighting to £4000 for local government employees. The Association of London Government (ALG) has estimated that that the London-wide cost of meeting the union's demands would be £250 million - equivalent to an extra £90 on every Band D council tax bill.

Cabinet member for education Cllr Malcolm Grimston said:

"We will be doing all we can to lessen the impact of this industrial action on children and parents, but it is quite probable that there will be some degree of disruption to lessons. Parents may find that despite our best efforts, some of the schools have to close early each day. This will cause enormous disruption to their children's education.

"If schools do close, many working parents will find it extremely difficult to find alternative childcare for such a long period of time. Some may find it impossible to take time off at the drop of a hat and they may be forced to make difficult decisions in order to ensure that their children are properly looked after.

"I find it quite disgraceful that the unions are prepared to damage children's education and put parents in such an insidious position. If these union barons had any compassion at all for innocent working mums and dads, they would call off these damaging and unnecessary strikes immediately and return to the negotiating table."

Geoff Martin, London region convenor for Unison, reportedly said: "We have been in this dispute for two years and our members are determined to carry on the struggle for a living wage in this expensive capital city. The response from our members has been fantastic and their resilience is inspiring."

6th November 2003

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