Union protests outside town hall over ongoing Oaks Park High dispute

Union activists protested outside Redbridge Town Hall on Saturday, September 11

National Education Union members and supporters from across east London protested outside Redbridge Town Hall on Saturday, September 11 - Credit: Redbridge NEU

The National Education Union (NEU) held a protest outside Redbridge Town Hall as part of an ongoing dispute with Oaks Park High School. 

NEU members at the school are halfway through a six-day period of industrial action, through which they hope to secure the reinstatement of a sacked rep as well as measures to address what they allege is a culture of bullying at the school in Newbury Park. 

Organisers estimate around 70 people were in attendance at the protest on Saturday (September 11).

They were supported by NEU members from Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Tower Hamlets, Haringey and Waltham Forest and Trades Union Congress representatives from Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Haringey. 

Venda Premkumar, district secretary for Redbridge NEU, said: “The support for the strikers is spreading throughout the NEU and wider unions."

Last Tuesday (September 7) the union returned to the picket lines to begin six more days of industrial action, following successive strikes in the previous academic year. 

National Education Union picketers outside Oaks Park School this morning (September 7)

National Education Union picketers outside Oaks Park High School on Tuesday, September 7 - Credit: NEU

The NEU has accused senior school management of “victimising” staff who had asked to work offsite during the second wave of Covid-19, including an NEU rep who was sacked on the basis of what they allege were “grossly overstated charges”. 

Neither the NEU or the school will reveal the stated reason for the rep’s sacking. 

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said last week that it regretted the strike action and the disruption it would cause, but said it was satisfied the school had acted “in accordance to their policies in regard to one of the union representatives”.   

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They added: “We will always follow up any concerns raised about any school including members of staff. We will always follow up concerns with school leaders and governors.”  

The council said after reviewing the evidence, it was satisfied none of the school’s actions had been motivated by the staff requests to work offsite, which were made under section 44 of the Employment Rights Act. 

NEU members at the school will be on strike again between Tuesday and Thursday this week (September 14-16) and the union has said it will push for further strike action – and could even take the school and local authority to an employment tribunal – if a resolution is not reached.

Oaks Park High was contacted for comment last week but the Recorder has not received a response.