Friday, 31 May 2013

Thanks for the solidarity - Lewisham stands united

Lewisham NUT would like  to thank the many trade unionists, community campaigners, residents and youth, from across all sections of our community, that have made clear that they were going to respond in such large numbers to the call for a Unity Rally against the BNP outside the Lewisham Islamic Centre (LIC) on Saturday.

We are in no doubt that the size of the likely turnout in Lewisham, as well as neighbouring Woolwich, helped to persuade the Metropolitan Police to impose conditions under the Public Order Act instructing the BNP to move their march and rally to Whitehall.

In these circumstances, and although the NUT and the LIC had discussed the possibility of continuing with the rally to celebrate the unity shown, once again, by the people of Lewisham against those who would try to divide us, the Islamic Centre has decided that “after careful consideration, we have decided that the most responsible course of action to now take is to cancel the rally” on Saturday.

The NUT obviously respects this decision to cancel the rally and is asking that you pass on this information, and our thanks, to others who may have intended to gather in Lewisham on Saturday to show your opposition to the BNP’s provocations and to stand in solidarity to the Islamic Centre.

As the Lewisham Islamic Centre has stated: It gives us great satisfaction  to  hear that one of the most significant reasons that the  BNP cancelled their march was  because of the community concerns expressed by the communities of both Boroughs  … we believe that the coming together of so many different faiths, different races  and so many different sections of society to  unite with one voice declaring “you pick on one of us, then you pick on all of us” …  is indeed the real manifest victory.  The achievement is therefore two fold – firstly, the BNP march through our great Borough has been cancelled and secondly, the  action of the  BNP has reaffirmed the unity of the community within our Borough ,which has always been strong”

Lewisham NUT understands that there is likely to be a counter-protest against the BNP/EDL march in Central London that those that were intending to rally in Lewisham may wish to attend. However, Lewisham NUT and other Lewisham trade unionists will also be monitoring events locally tomorrow in case of any attempts to threaten the Islamic Centre in spite of the police ban.

We hope that all those that have come together to oppose the BNP’s attempts to build support after the horrific murder of Lee Rigby will maintain the links that we have built, strengthen our community ties, and work together to campaign for schools, homes and jobs for all, not racism.

Martin Powell-Davies, Secretary, Lewisham NUT                         Friday 31 May 2013

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Lewisham unites against the BNP on Saturday

It was always inevitable that the BNP would try to build support on the back of the Woolwich killing. However, rather than demonstrating in Woolwich on Saturday as it was first thought (and a UAF anti-racist festival/demo will be going ahead at 12 noon in General Gordon Square, Woolwich), the BNP have now announced that they now plan to march (or take cars) away from Woolwich and converge on the Lewisham Islamic Centre (which is close to Lewisham Hospital) instead.

In these circumstances, Lewisham trade unionists clearly have a responsibility to organise a protest to make clear to the BNP that their racist lies will not be allowed to divide our community - and also to offer solidarity to the Islamic Centre.  The Islamic Centre has also called on support from a range of organisations for coordinating a peaceful rally against the BNP on the day of the march.

Final details have now been confirmed for a unity rally outside the mosque:
2 pm outside Lewisham Islamic Centre
365 Lewisham High St, by the Shell Garage near the Hospital

A Lewisham NUT leaflet can be downloaded from:

The text from the leaflet is written below:
Don’t let the racists divide us!

The horrific murder of a young soldier in Woolwich has rightly been met with overwhelming condemnation. However, now the British National Party (BNP) are trying to use the understandable outrage at this attack to gain support. On Saturday afternoon, they are planning to march on the Islamic Centre in Lewisham. Lewisham has a proud record of standing united against all those who would divide our community. Join the protest to show the BNP that the trade unions, residents and young people of Lewisham are standing united against this provocative march.

Lewisham National Union of Teachers (NUT) utterly condemns the killing of the soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich. This was an appalling tragedy for the victim, his family and friends. Local residents showed great bravery in intervening to try and assist him.
However, the racist attacks in the days that followed must also be condemned. Amongst other attacks, three petrol bombs were thrown at a mosque in Grimsby and a fried chicken shop was smashed up in east London. These actions, just like the killing in Woolwich, are carried out by a tiny number of people who are totally unrepresentative of most people.

Racist organisations like the BNP and their ilk are trying to feed off the desperate conditions of poverty and hopelessness that exist in parts of Breadline Britain. When food banks can't keep up with demand, when there’s a shortage of decent homes and school places for our youngsters, then the BNP’s racist lies can seem to provide easy answers. But BNP hatred provides no way forward. 
In fact their divisive racism can only set back the struggle against poverty. Racism weakens the force in society that has the potential to defeat government cuts - the power that comes from a united struggle of working people, of all backgrounds. That’s why the NUT, along with other trade unions, organises to oppose the BNP but also to build united  action to oppose privatisation and cuts to schools, hospitals and other public services.
Lewisham has a proud tradition of standing up to fascism and racism. We need to show that unity again this Saturday. As the Lewisham Islamic Centre has rightly said, “the purpose of the march to conclude in our Borough and outside our Centre is to create discord, division and disunity”.

We must not let the BNP succeed in building support out of this tragedy. Let’s stand together and show the BNP that we will not let racism - or terrorism - divide our community. 

Friday, 17 May 2013

OPEN Trades Council: Welfare Campaign

Lewisham Trades Council are fully committed to campaigning against cuts to benefits and to defending the Welfare State. We will be organising a public meeting at a later date but would like to discuss plans for the campaign with neighbouring trades councils and anyone who would like to work with us

We have therefore decided to open up our next meeting to all who wish to attend and support our campaign. Details as follows:

Day and Date: Tuesday 02/07/13

Time: 7pm to 8:45pm

Venue: Deptford Campus, Lewisham College, Deptford Broadway

Nearest Station: Deptford Bridge DLR

For furthe information contact:   


May Trades Council Report

Lewisham Trades Council met on Tuesday 14/05/13. The following reports were received and decisions taken:

Venezuala Solidarity Campaign -  

After hearing a from a guest speaker, the trades council agreed to affiliate to the campaign.

FBU campaign

A donation to the FBU was agreed and we urge all trade unionists to attend the public consultation meeting on Wednesday 22nd May and voice their opposition to the proposed closures.

Welfare Campaign 

In advance of a public meeting later this year we agreed that the next trade council on Tuesday 02/07/13 would be open to all local activists and groups to discuss practical plans to build the campaign. We agreed to invite several organisations including neighbouring trades councils.

Banner Theatre show 8/06/13 

We agreed to co-sponsor this event arranged by Greenwich & Bexley Trades and Bromley Trades Councils

Delegates reports as follows:

TSSA continuing to campaign against job cuts at stations, which jeopordise passenger safety in the evenings.

UCU reported campaigns against redundancies in Tower Hamlets and Lewisham colleges.

CWU telecommunications are recruiting several workers from the sub contractors installing Virgin Media. The first formal request for union recognition has already been made.

NUT - Campaign against attacks on pay and conditions will see a strike in the North West on 27/06/13. Other Regions including London will be striking in the Autumn term.

PCS - set to strike again as part of pay and conditions dispute on Wednesday 05/06/13  

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Lewisham teachers urge governors to reject Gove's performance-pay plans

The following joint letter is being sent to all Lewisham Headteachers, Chairs of Governors and Councillors from the secretaries of Lewisham ATL, NASUWT and NUT.

PAY POLICY: Don’t apply Gove’s damaging proposals in Lewisham schools

Michael Gove has asked that all schools review their pay policies to make sure that they are consistent with the revised statutory provisions due to take effect from 1 September 2013. However, his request is not being made in the interests of young people and schools. Instead, like so much of his education policy, Mr.Gove’s proposals are thoroughly flawed. They will divide and demoralise staff, setting back education.

while the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document will have changed, schools do not have to decide to adopt significant changes to ensure that existing pay structures comply with the revisions. Our national unions have compiled the enclosed checklists, which, however much Mr.Gove might object, are entirely consistent with the new provisions. By following these checklists, schools can maintain a clear and transparent pay policy that will help to recruit, retain and motivate teachers.

Reports from schools across Lewisham indicate that teachers are strongly opposed to Michael Gove’s damaging proposals. Like us, your staff will be seeking assurances that Governing Bodies will be adopting pay policies that are in line with the ATL and NASUWT/NUT checklists. We strongly believe that it is in the best interests of schools and education to follow our recommendations, so as to avoid:

  • Schools finding it difficult to recruit teaching staff, particularly in Inner London.
Teaching Unions believe that teachers on the Main Pay Range should continue to be awarded pay progression following a successful performance review. If new teachers fear that they risk financial insecurity by joining a school that might not be awarding pay progression, they will go elsewhere. Teachers will be particularly wary of moving to London schools where the pressures on our pupils and their communities can mean that it is a greater challenge to meet externally imposed targets. We also believe that schools should continue to honour teachers’ previous salaries on the main and upper pay scales. Without this guarantee, experienced teachers will be unwilling to move from their existing post, or to apply to take up a new post.
  • Schools having to deal with increasing numbers of grievances and pay appeals.
Teaching Unions believe that schools should adopt a common six-point Main Pay Range and three-point Upper Pay Range, and consistently award pay progression, as proposed in our checklists. Any other approach is bound to lead to significant division and ill-feeling. Governors will inevitably face a rising workload in handling complaints, grievances and claims for potential discrimination.
  • Teaching and Learning being damaged through staff division and demoralisation.
Staff who feel valued and supported will make a far greater contribution to school improvement. Schools work best where there is collaboration and trust between teachers. Performance-pay will divide staff and damage teaching and learning. OECD research based on international PISA studies shows that there is no evidence that Gove’s plans will improve education.

If you wish to discuss these points further or be sent full copies of recommended policies, please contact :
Kim Knappett, Lewisham ATL 

Kathy Duggan, Lewisham NASUWT
Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham NUT

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Rally outside the Fire Consultation Meeting on Wednesday 22 May

The following letter has been sent to Lewisham NUT reps and all NUT members at Sydenham School - where the Fire Authority  consultation meeting is taking place at 7pm on Wednesday - with a rally also taking place outside the school from 6pm.

The London Fire Authority are holding a meeting at Sydenham School on Wednesday evening.
Sydenham School is an ‘interesting’ choice of venue when the homes and  communities most directly affected by the fire station closure plans are in Downham and New Cross ! However, the fire-fighters’ union, the FBU, are trying to make sure that such skulduggery does not prevent local residents attending the meeting to make their overwhelming opposition to fire station closures known to the Fire Authority.
Of course, for teachers, these closures are a serious issue as we all know how important it is to have sufficient fire cover in the event of a school emergency. Just as we have argued over the A&E closure, times quoted for ‘average travel time’ for fire engines to reach Downham and New Cross from other fire stations take no account of the time it can take a fire appliance to reach a home or school during peak traffic periods in London. In short, these cuts WILL cost lives – unless they are prevented.
I know how busy we all are now with SATs, exam preparation and coursework but, as the Fire Authority have chosen to hold the meeting in the school with the biggest NUT membership in the borough, I hope that some of us can attend the protest outside Sydenham School at 6pm and stay, if possible, for the consultation meeting which starts  at 7 pm.
Lewisham NUT’s banner will be there and if Sydenham School’s banners can be there too, plus reps from other schools, it would be appreciated.
Let’s show some solidarity against cuts and closures and support our FBU colleagues on Wednesday,
Martin Powell-Davies, Secretary, Lewisham NUT.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

South East London Rally for The People's Assembly 16/05/13

This will be held at 6pm in Room 137 of Goldsmiths College, New Cross.

Speakers include Aaron Kiely, NUS, Rachel Maskell, UNITE, Romayne Phoenix, Coalition of Resistance and a speaker from Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign