Teachers and other union members strike at Harold Hill school over restructure during cost-of-living crisis

The former headteacher of Plashet School Bushra Nasir

CEO of the Drapers’ Multi-Academy Trust Bushra Nasir - Credit: Ken Mears

Union members from a Harold Hill school are striking over "pay grades and hours cuts" in a restructure they have branded "socially irresponsible" during the cost of living crisis.  

Today (May 17) teachers and support staff in the National Education Union (NEU) at Drapers’ Pyrgo Priory School are striking against planned cost-cutting.  

The Drapers’ Pyrgo Priory School is part of Drapers’ multi-academy trust, which also runs Drapers’ Academy secondary and three other schools. 

CEO of the academy trust, Bushra Nasir, said: “We are very disappointed that union leaders at the NEU have decided to strike on six dates in May and June. 

“The dispute centres around our decision to restructure our support staff at Pyrgo to make it more cost-effective and equitable for all staff." 

Further strikes are scheduled to take place on May 24 and 25 and on June 7, 8 and 9. 

Mrs Nasir, who recently featured on a reimagined London Underground map, added: “We put a very high value on the work carried out by our staff, and understand restructure often brings a degree of uncertainty." 

She said the trust "respects the right of union leaders to strike", but doesn't feel it's the right decision.

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The NEU said the school offered to extend the consultation into June.  

NEU district secretary for Havering, John Delaney, said: “It is a cruel proposal at a time of rising inflation and extra living costs.  

“Reducing hours and pay grades at this time is socially irresponsible and a kick in the teeth for the staff who kept the school running during the pandemic.”  

Mrs Nasir said the trust laid out a “comprehensive business case for the restructure” which has been rejected by the NEU but accepted by other unions, which are not on strike.

She claimed an offer to meet with union leaders to prevent industrial action was refused, and classroom learning has moved online during the strike. 

“Whilst this is far from ideal, we were able to fine-tune our online learning during the pandemic, meaning we are able to ensure continuity of learning for our pupils,” said Mrs Nasir.  

She added: “We are open for discussion with the union leaders to bring this dispute to an amicable conclusion and avoid future strikes.”  

John said: “With falling numbers across schools in London and Havering, why is Drapers' concentrating on restructuring Pyrgo Priory School which serves those least well off in the area? 

“Whilst we welcome an extension to the consultation, we ask the employer to enter into meaningful dialogue with our members who serve the local community.” 

cost of living crisis campaign logo Your Money Matters

Cost of living crisis 'Your Money Matters' campaign logo - Credit: Archant

This comes amid the Recorder's Your Money Matters campaign, which offers practical advice and support as you grapple with a surge in the cost of living.