Sunday, 22 June 2014

National Executive: Striking for Public Services on 10th July

The main debate at the NUT National Executive on Thursday was of course on the upcoming strike action.
On 22nd May, we resolved to take further action on 10th July if there was not sufficient progress in talks with government.  On 19th June, we received a report on the progress in talks so far and it was clear that, which ever way we look at it, there was nothing that our members would describe as sufficient progress.

On the deregulation of teachers pay, on the cut to our pensions and on the question of workload, there was nothing that we could, in all honesty, argue was grounds for settling our dispute.

There have been some concessions on the implementation of policy, covering all three areas, and these will make a difference for teachers.  We should not downplay the importance of these, or the fact that they have been won through the hard work of NUT members who took action with our colleagues in NASUWT and alone on the 26th March in order to achieve them.

But...
  • Teachers will still be required to work to 68 to claim their pension.
  • They can still lose the value of their pay if they move schools, and
  • There is no new statutory guidance to reduce workload.
In this situation, we must follow the decisions of our membership at our Easter conference, which was to take further action this term.

We did consider the date of the action in detail, both in May and last week.

Unison, Unite and GMB are balloting their members in a dispute with government over public sector pay and have announced their intention to take strike action on 10th July.

In this situation, we were face with two choices:
  1. Go it alone with a date in June; or
  2. Take part in action alongside over a million other public sector workers in July.
In this context, we felt that, if we had to call on NUT members to take action again, we wanted it to have maximum impact.  In spite of the issues posed by a date so late in the school term, joint action with Britain's three largest unions was clearly the preferable option.

During the debate, two objections were put to the National Officers' report.  The first was to call off the strike action this term and the second was to supplement the strike with two consecutive days of strike action in the autumn term.  In both cases, I voted against with the majority of the executive.

I feel it would have been a mistake to call off our action at this stage, particularly as we are working alongside other public sector unions for maximum impact.  I also felt it would be a mistake to pre-emptively plan two consecutive days of action in the autumn.  I think, following this strike, it will be time to take stock of the campaign so far, what we have won in terms of concessions and plan carefully for the next stages of the campaign, including deepening our work in the wider community and pushing for greater co-ordination between the teacher unions.

Our action has won us concessions but an alliance of parents and the wider community, build around a united teaching profession could really change the landscape in education.

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