The NUT teachers’ union began balloting its 250,000 members on Monday of this week. The ballot is for national strike action against a below-inflation, three-year pay deal.
The ballot takes place against a backdrop of growing economic turmoil. As the government rushes to prop up the financial sector, it is clear that the money is there to pay public sector workers a decent wage.
Now is the time to fight.
A yes vote in the ballot would be a crucial step forward.
It would mean that public sector workers across different unions could unite and strike back together – making success in the pay campaign much more likely.
But it would do more than that. It would send a signal to every worker in Britain who is facing attacks on pay, pensions and conditions that they can fight back. It could kick start a much wider fight back across the working class.
There is anger among teachers, not only about pay but also about workload, class sizes, increased bureaucracy and a million other things.
But a vote for strike action is not inevitable.
Teachers will need to fight for a yes vote over the next four weeks. NUT members will need to make sure that teachers in every school are contacted about the ballot – not just the schools with good union organisation.
Activists need to set up meetings in every school so that teachers have the space to ask questions and get involved in the organisation of the ballot.
The last national strike on 24 April saw lots of young teachers joining the NUT – they can be at the forefront of organising the struggle today.
“NUT members should relish this opportunity to take action on pay,” said Nick Grant from the NUT executive. “Let’s reject the fear we are expected to feel as the capitalist world turns upside down. Let’s turn them upside down.”