September 1999 and the countdown to the next Millennium! I can almost bring myself to describe now as an exciting time. Almost, but not quite - "interesting" might be more accurate. Islington has very many things going on at present

In order to be taken seriously it is a good idea to appear efficient as well as to have lots of members. Now for a variety of reasons the information on staff at schools is not always up to date and it can be quite embarrassing having to contact a school to ask for a member who has left a year or two before. On the other hand, it sometimes appears that there are no members affected by changes at a particular school and it turns out there are several members who did not tell the union as their contracts were only temporary, part time or nominally peripatetic. I'm not saying this to be bureaucratic, but I get some time off to do union work (currently day per week) and I need to justify this with the numbers of members. At present I am also attending Health and Safety meetings, but I would like to be able to arrange more "facility time" for this and give the H&S job to somebody else. I shall circulate information on members to school reps for them to check. Please return them to me. Pretty please. I will also produce a list of how many members there are on record in each school. For the present there are 201 members on my list, but that does not include anyone who has changed address and had mail returned.

There will be a separate newsletter for staff in schools affected by the EAZ. At present however, although we are not opposing the EAZ, relations have become somewhat strained between Islington NASUWT and the North Islington EAZ. This is because of a sudden refusal by the project director to discuss some issues of importance. This may resolve itself, but if it does not, then we will be in dispute with the EAZ. If anyone is asked to take on EAZ related work which they object to, then they will be supported by the union. The National Executive members for London are being kept up to date on developments.

Externalisation/Privatisation of services: the wholesale sale of Islington's education service. There is no real chance of this little project being averted. The bidding documents have been sent out to a shortlist of half a dozen possible contractors. One of these will be chosen in

November and the details of how much they will be paid and for what will be negotiated then. Islington will not be able to set up the "partnership organisation it had hoped for. I must be diplomatic and say that if you want an accurate view of my opinion of the proposals then you should come to the meeting.

The teachers who are most affected are those in the EMAG team. These staff, along with most of the education department's staff will transfer to the new contractor under "TUPE" legislation. We expect that access to the teachers' superannuation scheme will remain ~ contrary to the Treasury's initial wishes ~ and employment rights will be protected. The issues are too complicated to explain in detail here and in any case are not finalised. I have spoken to some of the EMAG staff, but if anyone has concerns and has not spoken to me then they should e-mail me (on greglond@aol.com) or contact me at school Tues-Fri.Largely because of the externalisation of services the regular meetings between unions and the LEA have been somewhat disrupted. The next scheduled meeting actually clashes with a meeting with Price Waterhouse, the externalisation consultants. Contact with all bar one of the other unions has been sporadic, but positive, although the teacher unions have not met to discuss our joint approach to any issues since February. This is a cause of some concern.

Since March I have been attending the EDSC (Education Department Safety Committee) meetings. These, amongst other things, receive reports of accidents reported to the council. We all have a legal obligation to comply with safety legislation. So do schools; yet there are reports of teachers being refused when they ask for the accident book and certain large secondary schools which are apparently accident free for the whole year. Ho hum. Obviously we are all aware that excessive publicity is not welcome in Islington at present, but not reporting incidents: whether accidents or assaults, will not help us solve problems. It may also be illegal.

On another note. If anyone has information about projects going on in Islington, then there is no reason why that could not be shared with other people through the newsletter. Any cartoons, original jokes or quotes would also be welcome.

Greg Robbins..

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