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School students support protest in Hackney

Over 5000 Hackney council workers across dozens of separate workplaces came out on 20th December to protest against cuts. About half of the schools were closed down when hundreds of NUT members refused to cross picket lines.

However a senior personnel officer altered a copy of a letter from the NUT leadership to one school, saying cross picket lines. She changed is so that it read as a letter to all reps and faxed it to all schools in Hackney the day before the strike,.

NUT leader McAvoy was reported to be "spitting blood" and has asked for an apology. Teachers will want to know why he advised some members to cross picket lines in the first place.

In the long run the most significant factor was the support of school students for the protest. Whoever has the youth has the future.

Clare James writes:

HACKNEY COUNCIL is making over £22 million of cuts including £650,000 cuts in education services. Worse still it is seriously considering privatising every school.

We wanted to see Hackney school students fighting for their education by joining the council and education staff strike on 20 December. We took leaflets explaining what was happening to many schools and there was huge enthusiasm for this strike.

Many students told us about how school toilets didn’t work and how repairs had been left for months, even years. Sadia Ahmed from Clapton Girls said: "We don’t have enough qualified teachers. We need more equipment. They’ve started cancelling our school trips because they can’t afford it."

A few headteachers and staff moaned at us for asking students to join the strike, but we had a brilliant school student contingent on the march under the name of ‘Hackney School Student Action’.

In Homerton school, over 100 students left their classes to join the strike in their break time, but the headteacher locked the gates to stop them going. The students were arguing with the head to be let out. Many chanted: ‘Strike, Strike, Strike.’

Unfortunately they couldn’t attend but said they wanted to join action next year. Those students who got to the demo were singing and shouting throughout. Many joined Hackney School Student Action, and a meeting is planned for 8 January to discuss further action to fight the cuts.

Other students said: "People think Hackney’s a London ghetto and we don’t have rights. We should have a decent education like Prince Harry and Prince William get just because they’re rich. We want all our friends and teachers to come to the next protest."

As Emma Kelsall said: "I’m glad I came today. I didn’t think there’d be this many here and it’s quite impressive. I’m going to get involved now."