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UNISON announces second strike date at Halley Academy

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UNISON, along with GMB and NEU, will strike on Tuesday 14 May to protest against redundancies at Halley Academy, a mixed secondary school in Greenwich.

In January 2019 Halley Academy, part of Leigh Academy Trust (LAT), announced plans to make 19 out of 24 support staff redundant to save £600k due to increased costs and falling pupil numbers.
LAT then emailed staff instructing them to clear desks and return school property by Friday 5 April. Staff were told they were to be put on ‘gardening leave’ and not to return after the Easter holiday.
The workers will demonstrate at LAT headquarters in Strood after picketing outside the school in the morning. The school is likely to be closed for the day. 
UNISON and GMB previously took one day of strike action over the issue on 25 April.
UNISON Greater London regional secretary Maggi Ferncombe said: “The scale of cuts to support staff are breathtaking and will have a terrible impact on children’s education.
“UNISON will continue to meet with LAT and seek a resolution to this dispute in good faith. It’s not too late for the school to see sense and reverse these damaging cuts 
“However, after unexpectedly informing staff by email that they would be put on gardening leave, the employer has a long way to go to rebuild trust. Unless we see improvements soon, it will be hard to avoid continuing and escalating industrial action.”
Clara Mason, schools convenor for Greenwich UNISON, said: “LAT’s complete lack of care for its staff, pupils and parents leaves UNISON with no alternative but to continue coordinated strike action.
“LAT should return to the negotiating table and work with unions to protect staff and Halley Academy’s future.”

Halley Academy was taken over by Leigh Academy Trust (LAT) in 2018.

Halley Academy has over 150 pupils who are SEN or require additional support with issues from mental health, gang association to food poverty, that are supported by the very support staff who jobs are due to be cut. Staff raised their concerns about pupil welfare, one member: “We are their school parents we feed, clothe and look after them”. 

The Trust has sufficient funds in its accounts to support Halley academy but refuses to acknowledge this. During the takeover of Halley Academy, previously known as Corelli College, the Trust was handed £500,000 to up do the buildings and won a further £1m over “disputed interest” in school land from the local authority.

UNISON’s ballot resulted in 100% of members voting for strike action on a 68% turnout. 

UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

The Regional Secretary (Maggi Ferncombe) and Regional Organiser (Dick Traynor) will be at the picket line on Tuesday 14 May.

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