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Teachers back strike action at Hebburn academy

ACADEMY OPPOSITION ... Coun John McCabe, pictured with Unison representative Gemma Taylor, at a previous protest outside St Josephs Catholic Academy.

ACADEMY OPPOSITION ... Coun John McCabe, pictured with Unison representative Gemma Taylor, at a previous protest outside St Josephs Catholic Academy.

TEACHERS have voted overwhelmingly in support of strike action at a South Tyneside school where jobs face the axe.

This follows fears over more than 20 job losses, plus pay cuts and regrading of posts at St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, in Mill Lane, Hebburn, as part of a staff and budget review.

Recent ballots among members of the NUT, the NAS/UWT and Unison saw 90 per cent of staff voting in support of industrial action.

But union leaders say there is now some scope for agreement with management at the school, which only became an academy last summer.

Union leaders will tomorrow meet officials at the school to discuss how the dispute can be resolved.

Jill McManus, division secretary and equal opportunities officer for South Tyneside NUT, said: “Both the NUT and the NAS/UWT members voted strongly in favour of taking action, if it’s needed.

“We are meeting the headteacher and others at the school on Friday to talk about the issues and we are trying to come to some sort of agreement.

“But some of our members are not happy with the school – partly about the redundancies, but also about the workload.

“There are suggestions our members will have to regularly teach two more lessons, which doesn’t on the face of it sound a lot, but will involve extra hours of preparation.

“Basically, there is a mandate to strike, if members think it is required.”

Terence Carney, chairman of governors, who previously called the strike ballot “premature,” said: “Following a meeting last week, I think there is less a need to contemplate industrial action, as I believe some of the anxieties have been allayed.

“While we are still in the process of going forward on planning and the budget, I would hope there is now a will to see the matter through.”

But Mr Carney, who maintains the budgeting exercise is unconnected with the former St Joseph’s RC Comprehensive School becoming an academy last July, added: “The matter of staffing is still under review.”

Coun John McCabe resigned as foundation governor at the school last year, calling the plans “anti-Christian” and “elitist”.

Merv Butler, branch secretary of Unison South Tyneside, said: “Last week’s meeting reached agreements on voluntary redundancies, and that has helped. We are on the way to resolving this, but there are still a number of outstanding matters.

“The mandate for strike action still stands.”

Twitter: @terrykelly16

 

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