Know Your Rights: the campaigns of Bob and Roberta Smith

A review of Bob and Roberta Smith’s exhibition at the William Morris Gallery E17


James B reviews the latest exhibition of Bob and Roberta Smith, finding a powerful defence of art as a human right, source of self-empowerment and tool of protest. The show until January 31 in Walthamstow’s William Morris Gallery.

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George Monoux dispute: NUT statement on the suspension of strike action

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) branch has issued this statement following the temporary suspension of their strike action:

Following discussions between NUT officials and the Chair of Corporation, a new proposal has been put forward with the aim of resolving the dispute over the unfair sackings of Flor Thompson and Diane George. This will involve an independent adjudicator hearing evidence and presenting a new report to the Corporation. Any member of staff can present evidence to this adjudicator, and their evidence will be anonymous.

To facilitate an attempt to resolve the dispute, the NUT will co-operate with this process and has decided to suspend the action planned for this week. In doing so we wish to stress:

1) The NUT remains in dispute with the college on this issue.

2) We have made no commitment to respect the outcome of this process, especially as the adjudicator’s report goes to the Corporation itself. Our resolve the fight for a fair outcome of our members remains undiminished. The college in turn has not given any pledge to respect the findings of the adjudicator.

3) We have merely suspended industrial action for this week. Our ballot for discontinuous strike action remains in force and allows us to resume strike action next term should this be necessary.

The NUT remains easily the biggest union in the college and the overwhelming majority of our members have respected the picket lines. We congratulate our members for their continued solidarity and determination in the face of the barrage of propaganda and disinformation ranged against them.

Teachers at George Monoux College announce further strike action

Teachers at Sir George Monoux Sixth Form College have voted to step up their strike action in defence of two colleagues sacked for their union roles.

wpid-wp-1434999397873.jpegNational Union of Teachers (NUT) members at the college say that Flor Thompson, union health and safety representative, and Diane George, joint college rep, were victimised by college management and that the charges against them are ridiculous.
Flor Thompson was originally suspended in 2013 and sacked after one year’s suspension. She was later reinstated after a governors’ inquiry, only to be re-suspended and sacked in 2015 on a different set of trumped up charges. Diane George was also sacked this year.
After five days of strike action Principal Paolo Ramella and the college governors have remained intransigent and refused all attempts at a negotiated settlement. NUT members have voted unanimously for another 5 days of strike action this term and 3 more at the start of next term.
wpid-wp-1434988427653.jpegCollege NUT rep Pippa Dowswell, a supporter of Left Unity, said: “We are facing a hardnosed management who want to establish an autocratic regime. They have to understand that we will not allow our representatives to be victimised in this way. Our union executive has given our strike action 100% support. If management can pick off union activists, all teachers at the college are threatened.”

Join the pickets outside George Monoux College, 190 Chingford Road E17 5AA from 7-9 am on 24 and 25 June, and 1, 2, 8 and 9 July.

Teachers at Monoux College to strike over union victimisation

Members of the National Union of Teachers at Sir George Monoux College in Walthamstow are planning a two day strike this week over the sacking of two union officials. The strike will include Wednesday 6 May and election-day Thursday 7th.

The union claims that the two long-serving and highly respected sacked teachers – Flor Thompson and Diane George – were victimised because of their role as union representatives. The strike follows a one-day strike over the same issue in March.

Union members will picket the school both days. On Thursday part of the college will be used as a polling station, but NUT members will not be picketing the entrance to that area.

George Monoux college strike: A statement from the NUT

Here is a statement from NUT rep Pippa Dowswell on the ongoing strike action being taken by staff at Sir George Monoux College in Walthamstow.

The strike has arisen because two NUT members, both active in the union, one as the joint college rep with me and the other as the health and safety rep have been dismissed.  The NUT officials who have dealt with their cases agree that both dismissals are unfair, involving a lack of willingness by the senior leadership team to give a fair hearing to the point of view of the staff rather than the managers and a lack of support when and where it was needed.   In my opinion, working on the ground at the college, these dismissals are part of a broader picture of management incompetence and a campaign against the NUT which started because we organised a vote of no confidence against the Principal when he went forward with an ill advised restructuring in 2011.  A culture of fear has developed at the college where middle managers are made to feel that being an NUT member is not compatible with their position in the college and where teaching staff are worried that they could be next to have disciplinary or capability procedures used against them.  As the NUT Rep who is often challenging the management, I am constantly looking over my shoulder.

The NUT group at the college have voted for sustained discontinuous action, which means that if our demands for the reinstatement of our 2 colleagues are not met, we will strike again, next time for 2 days.

The management have now agreed to meet with the local and regional reps.

Election 2015 – Put the candidates on the spot!

This is the leaflet we’ll be using at hustings and on the streets in the run-up to the election on 7 May.


Leaflet – front & back
Leaflet – inside

Thanks to Fields of Light photography for allowing us to use their picture of our banner.

Walthamstow Wetlands development

Walthamstow Reservoirs cover an area of 200 hectares on the western edge of the borough bordering Hackney, Haringey and the river Lea. It is an internationally and nationally recognised ecological resource and wildlife habitat as well as providing drinking water for London’s residents and fishing.

Waltham Forest Council has raised £8m of funding to develop the area, owned by Thames Water, as a free, publicly accessible wetland, with amenities and facilities for school students to engage with the environment. It will become Europe’s largest urban wetland.

London Wildlife Trust has been appointed to oversee the development. This will include renovating the historic engine house, close to Ferry Road, and the Coppermill, off Coppermill Lane. Work is expected to be completed by 2017.

This project has the potential to enrich our community. But Left Unity believes that capitalism’s incessant search for profit poses a grave and imminent threat to the world’s ecosystem. Despite the efforts of the ‘climate sceptics’ to downplay this threat a large proportion of people are now questioning the logic of such a destructive system. As such any effort to preserve our environment and to build an understanding of how we interact with it is very welcome.

Our draft environmental policy details our assessment of the ecological peril and the radical proposals necessary to remedy it.

More info can be found at

Project updates should be posted on the Council’s website

The Coppermill, September 2014

The Coppermill, September 2014