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NUT strikes: Agreement to stop walk-outs reached after 12-hour meeting

PUBLISHED: 10:49 20 November 2014 | UPDATED: 10:49 20 November 2014

Niall O'Connor, deputy branch secretary of Haringey NUT. Picture: Polly Hancock

Niall O'Connor, deputy branch secretary of Haringey NUT. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Strike action which crippled two secondary schools looks set to end, after headteachers backed down from their demands a union remove its rep.

Representatives from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Haringey Schools Forum came to an agreement to end the strikes on Monday, after a marathon 12-hour meeting.

The strike had seen NUT members at Highgate Wood School, in Crouch End, and Fortismere, in Muswell Hill, walk out for three days in just two weeks.

They were protesting at the headteachers’ refusal to sign a service level agreement, which pays for union time.

The heads were refusing to sign it as long as Julie Davies, the secretary of Haringey’s NUT, was still in post. But the union refused to remove her, as Ms Davies is an elected by their members - not selected by the headteachers.

But the heads, through the schools forum, have now agreed they will sign the agreement - and Ms Davies can remain as rep.

They also agreed a new protocol, outlining due process for both parties to raise concerns about behaviour in industrial relations, in the hope it will prevent disputes in future.

In a joint statement, the two sides said: “Following productive talks which took place at ACAS headquarters between the schools’ forum and trade union representatives, we are pleased to announce significant agreement has been reached on key points relating to trade union representation and an agreed protocol.

“As a consequence, the NUT has agreed to recommend to members in schools affected by strikes and ballots that these be suspended.

“The representatives of the Schools’ Forum have agreed to recommend to that body a funding agreement which will, if adopted, bring an end to the dispute with recognised trade unions.”

The strike action is now suspended - although it could resume should the schools’ forum not sign the agreement, due to be done at its next meeting.

Cllr Claire Kober, leader of Haringey Council, said: “We are hopeful that these talks will mark a turning point in this dispute and we look forward to an ongoing good relationship with all trade unions in Haringey.”

However, Niall O’Connor, deputy secretary of Haringey NUT, said it was a “tragedy” the strikes had had to go ahead in the first place - especially as it ended with the demands first made in back in the summer being agreed.

“The NUT is deeply unhappy we had to take strike action before talks took place,” he added. “We could have achieved this in August, or September, or October.”

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