Some 400 public sector workers attended a rally for decent pay on Thursday of last week.
The rally was called by the NUT teachers’ union. Speakers from the NUT and the UCU lecturers’ union addressed the rally, as well as Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS civil service workers’ union.
All spoke of the need for unity across the public sector to beat Gordon Brown’s pay freeze.
“When the public sector takes action together we can defeat the government,” said Christine Blower, NUT deputy general secretary.
Linda Newman, president of UCU, agreed. “We must stick together to defend our members,” she said. “The government expects much from its public servants but it fails to act with integrity. It doesn’t matter which service or sector – the experience is the same.”
Mark Serwotka spoke about the PCS strike that had begun the same day, to applause from the audience. Addressing the NUT he said, “We will do whatever it takes to support you in your campaign.”
He again stressed the need for unity across the public sector. “We are all facing the same attack from the same source. It makes no sense to stand alone.”
Steve Sinnott, NUT general secretary, offered “solidarity greetings to our colleagues in the UCU and in the PCS.” But he argued that solidarity shouldn’t just be given in words. If the government insisted on a below inflation pay rise for teachers, the best way to support PCS workers would be to “have a successful ballot and a successful strike. By us all sticking together and fighting collectively we are stronger – and that’s the best way we can win.”
The NUT is waiting for the government to reveal the report from the School Teachers Review Body recommendations for teachers’ pay.
Speakers from the NUT made clear that a ballot will be held if the pay offer is unacceptable.
“I don’t want anyone to leave this rally with any uncertainty about the fact that there is an absolute determination on the part of the NUT to defend teachers’ pay,” said Christine Blower. “If it’s a below-inflation pay rise, then we will be balloting for action.”