Teachers in London are voting for strikes as increasing workloads and the rising cost of living force record numbers to quit the job. Over 40,000 members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are balloting for action to win increases in the allowances paid for working in London.
The government's pay review body has recommended increases of only 3.5 percent. That is far less than the police, who get £6,000 a year London allowance plus free transport. Teaching vacancies have doubled over the last year, according to figures sneaked out by the government last week.
Everyone who cares about the rundown of comprehensive education should support teachers taking action. The NUT vote in London is happening on a fast timetable to allow a strike to take place in two weeks time.
Elections for the national executive of the NUT are currently taking place. Left candidates are standing across the country. One of them is Socialist Worker supporter Nick Grant, assistant secretary of the NUT in Ealing, west London. He is standing with three other socialist candidates in the outer London area-Dave Harvey, Linda Taaffe and Sue Kortlandt.
Nick told Socialist Worker, 'A strong vote for left candidates can play a big role in boosting the confidence of rank and file members. There is real anger that New Labour has been allowed to get away with doing so much damage to education. I am also finding support when I raise other issues, such as opposition to Bush and Blair's war.'