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Year 2001 No. 38, February 28, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Teachers Vote for Action

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Teachers Vote for Action

Rolls-Royce Workers Strike Again

International News
Vietnam and Russia Sign Agreement
Cuban Foreign Minister Visits Vietnam

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Teachers Vote for Action

Teachers in London have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in the dispute about staff shortages.

Teachers across London voted by more than nine to one to refuse to cover vacant posts. Teachers’ unions warned that thousands of children would inevitably be sent home. The action will start after a statutory seven-day notice period and as many as one in three schools could be affected. Across London, that could mean disruption in as many as 800 schools. The ballot covers every London borough, Kent and the Medway Towns.

Members of the National Union of Teachers in London voted by 94 per cent to back action, while teachers of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers returned a 93 per cent vote in favour, both on a 30 per cent turnout of members.

There has been similar support in a ballot of teachers in Doncaster. Further ballots are planned in Portsmouth, Southampton, Leicester, Middlesborough, Nottingham, Kent, Manchester and Reading.

The action will mean that teachers will not cover vacancies for more than three days, or teach classes which have been amalgamated because of staff shortages, or to set or mark work for classes other than their own. Employers have warned they risk losing pay as a result. Education authorities are expected to draft in their own advisers since such just action by the teachers will inevitably bring the system to the point of crisis. The recruitment crisis has already manifested itself at a number of schools where children have been sent home.

At Timeplan, one of the biggest supply agencies, chairman Ian Penman said: "The supply would dry up on day one. There just aren't the supply teachers sitting around waiting for work."

The National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said that teachers were no longer prepared to "paper over the cracks" at schools unable to recruit enough permanent staff. NASUWT general secretary Nigel de Gruchy demanded government action on a wide front to halt the protest, including altering the open-ended teachers' contract which places no limit on the hours they can be required to work.

NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy said: "Teachers are today saying enough is enough and that they intend to stop covering up the teacher shortage." He accused Education Secretary David Blunkett of trying to "con" parents by pretending that the recruitment crisis only affected a "handful" of schools. Today's ballot exposed its true scale, he said.

David Blunkett claimed that government action was beginning to resolve recruitment difficulties. However, his remarks indicated the scale of the crisis. "Industrial action won't solve the recruitment problem," he said. "All it will do is to make the task of raising standards and engaging children's commitment that much harder." Trying to offload the problem, he urged teachers themselves to come up with "positive ideas" to aid recruitment.

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Rolls-Royce Workers Strike Again

The Rolls-Royce monopoly is desperate to re-open negotiations after workers staged a second 24-hour strike at the Ansty Plant in Coventry. Workers picketed the gates of the plant in order to step up their campaign against work being transferred to Canada and Bristol.

Around 400 workers took part in the action saying that 600 skilled workers were due to be made redundant.

Rolls-Royce workers previously struck work on February 9, in the first industrial dispute to hit the plant in over 20 years. They have also organised other actions such as a "day of disruption".

The dispute stems from the company decision to relocate the plant's energy and marine operations to Montreal and the Bristol Roll-Royce sites, which estimates of engineering job losses could total 1,300 altogether. The company thinks that an "offer" of re-location to Canada is a justifiable proposal.

MSF General Secretary, Roger Lyons, said the company had refused to take on board the union’s arguments. "We fear that if these 600 redundancies are not opposed," he said, "it will make the whole operation at Ansty vulnerable in the future."

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International News


Vietnam and Russia Sign Agreement

General V G Matchiukin led a delegation of the Russian President’s Liaison and Information Agency (LIA) to Vietnam recently. Documents for co-operation between Vietnam’s Public Security Ministry and the LIA were signed in Hanoi on February 24. Public Security Minister General Le Minh Huong signed on behalf of Vietnam.

The Russian delegation discussed with their Vietnamese counterparts factors affecting the security of their countries, among other issues. They also discussed implementation of their co-operation programme.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is to visit Hanoi on Thursday and Friday after his visit to South Korea. He is expected to sign a joint political declaration and co-operation documents.

Cuban Foreign Minister Visits Vietnam

Felipe Perez Roque is visiting five Asian countries over a period of two weeks. After visiting Malaysia and Singapore, he was in Vietnam on February 23-24. He then went on to China and will conclude his tour in Japan on March 3.

The Vietnamese communist party general secretary Le Kha Phieu met with Felipe Perez Roque in Hanoi on February 24. He said that Vietnam highly appreciated the Cuban Party and people’s staunch and creative spirit in their socialist construction and defence, as well as their struggle against the US embargo and blockade.

Le Kha Phieu said that Vietnam welcomed the Cuban people’s great achievements that helped raise Cuba’s international prestige and win world-wide sympathy and support. He reaffirmed Vietnam’s traditional solidarity and friendship with Cuba, as well as the continuation of the comprehensive and reliable co-operation between the two communist parties and people.

For his part, the Cuban foreign minister thanked the Vietnamese party and people for their wholehearted help and support. He also briefed Le Kha Phieu on his talks with Vietnam’s Foreign Minister, as well as about Cuba’s current situation and its firm resolve to build and defend socialist Cuba, as well as defeat the US embargo and blockade.

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