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Finsbury free school’s teachers could strike over ‘stingy’ contracts

Stem Academy, in City Road Stem Academy, in City Road

Friday, January 10, 2014
7:04 AM

Union will ballot members after bosses refuse to negotiate

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Teachers at a controversial free school could be set to walk out over “deplorable” working conditions and zero-hours contracts.

Staff at Stem 6 Academy, in City Road, Finsbury, will vote in the next fortnight on whether to strike after they were allegedly forced to sign up to “cheapskate and unacceptable contractual terms” just before Christmas.

National Union of Teachers (NUT) officials were brought in, but bosses at Islington’s only free school have refused to recognise the union, triggering the ballot.

‘Standing up’

Ken Muller, assistant branch secretary of Islington NUT, said: “If they vote to strike, these teachers are not just standing up for their own rights to be treated decently by their employer.They are also asserting that students are entitled to be taught by properly remunerated teachers who feel valued and secure in their jobs.

“They are not looking for a fight over these issues. But if the school’s management, and those standing behind them, continue to dismiss their concerns and refuse to meet with union representatives, then teachers have assured us they are willing to take industrial action.”

Teachers claim they had to sign, on pain of legal consequences, contracts saying:

n The school can lay them off without pay or cut their hours, with as much notice as they can reasonably give.

n They can receive just three weeks’ sick pay a year.

n They are only entitled to statutory maternity leave.

The NUT says these are far worse conditions than most Islington schools offer, but because Stem 6 is a free school, Islington Council has no say in how it is run.

No one from Stem was available for comment.

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