ANGRY staff at schools across Harrow have been denied the right to join a national strike action after a ‘shambolic’ error by their union.
As a result of the changeover to academy status in August, Unison members at seven borough schools have received letters from Unison stating ‘due to changes in your employment, it is now not possible for members at your school to participate’.
Under the new academy agreement, all staff are considered to have undergone changes in employment, which means all Unison members at Harrow High, Nower Hill, Park High, Hatch End, Canons, Rooks Heath and Bentley High schools are exempt from joining planned nationwide protests against proposed government changes to public sector pensions on Wednesday next week.
One member, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed Unison had failed to support its members, particularly after the union fought tirelessly against the adoption of academy status in Harrow.
They told the Observer: “Unions are meant to be there to protect our interest and ensure that our voices are heard. In that respect they have failed massively to do their job.
“Given that they were so strongly opposed to the idea of our schools becoming academies, it seems unbelievable that they would overlook the fact that we had all undergone changes in our employment.
“We have now been denied the right to strike and have our voices heard about something that is important to all of us.
"The letter makes no apology, but it seems fairly clear that they have simply made a shambolic error.”
The member also claimed that, in some cases, the letters were sent after ballot papers were issued, meaning their anonymous votes may still have been counted.
They also expressed concerns not all members may have received the letters and could be jeopardising their jobs if they join the strikes, unaware that they do not have the support of their union.
Although the issue only concerns Harrow, the mistake was made not by the Harrow branch, but the greater London regional office. Unison declined to comment on the issue.
* Are you a Unison member who is unable to strike due to the error? Call David Baker on 07795 811 756 or email firstname.lastname@example.org