Strike at Neasden school narrowly averted

Last ditch talks lead to resolution just hours before strike was scheduled to start

A strike at Crest Girls Academy has been called off at the eleventh hour after last ditch talks between teaching unions and the school.

E-Act, the education charity which runs the school, in Crest Road, Neasden, agreed to withdraw a threat to impose 22 compulsory redundancies on staff, avoiding a one day strike which had been called for yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

Hank Roberts, Brent NUT branch secretary, said: “This is a magnificent victory for members of all unions who stood up to the E-ACT management and were ready to take strike action to stop any proposed compulsory redundancies for any staff at the academy.

“It is a big change form the threat of 22 posts going to none and it was a cliff hanger.

“The Government is talking about giving extra money to schools that become academies, but this shows that this extra money very quickly runs out, and they make cuts.”

E-Act in February told staff that it had to cut staff costs because of Government cuts and a fall in pupil numbers, prompting teaching unions to ballot for industrial action.

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However, earlier this week the charity backtracked on the cuts and gave union officials an assurance that there would be no forced redundancies.

It follows a similar dispute at the neighbouring Crest Boys Academy, where last year teachers went on strike over plans to make seven posts redundant.

Mr Roberts warned that Crest Girls had suffered staff losses and that this put added strain on teachers.

Sarah Willis, education and communications officer at E-Act, said: “We have always said that we would do everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancies.

“We have worked hard with our staff and their trade union representatives to ensure that we sought volunteers for redundancy, did not replace staff when they left or could retire and redeployed staff where we had suitable vacancies.

“We are delighted that we have achieved the necessary reduction by these routes.”