There is a serious fight on in the NUT teachers’ union to win the ballot for strike action over pay.
Over 250,000 teachers have been offered a three-year below-inflation pay deal, representing a significant pay cut.
There is a lot of anger over pay and across the country teachers are organising to build a yes vote for strikes.
The NUT held a national branch secretaries’ conference last week. Those at the meeting were serious about winning the ballot. Union members there were disgusted at government hand-outs to the banks.
It was clear from the meeting that there is no question of the legitimacy of the teachers’ pay claim.
But there is a debate over whether strike action can win.
Anne Lemon is the divisional secretary for the NUT in north Somerset. She told Socialist Worker, “There is an argument among some teachers about whether this is a bad time to be striking.
“People don’t want to be seen as greedy and they are also worried about losing pay by striking.
“But when we put an argument to people – about the fact that the government has the money to pay us and that striking can win – they can be won round.”
Tommy Izzett, a joint NUT rep in east London, said, “The mood in my school has been more positive over the last couple of weeks. Everyone agrees with the reasons behind the ballot.
“We’re speaking to everyone to make sure they’ve sent their ballot papers back and have been having a union meeting once a week. A general disgruntlement over various issues at the school is contributing to the anger over pay.”
Tom Woodcock, president of Cambridge NUT, told Socialist Worker, “We set up an NUT campaign stall outside the shopping centre in the city centre last Saturday. We asked the public to sign a petition demanding better pay for teachers.
“Lots of people stopped to sign, including many public sector workers and teachers. This raised the profile of the campaign and the confidence of teachers. We hope to do similar things in other towns in the area.”
The ballot ends on Monday 3 November, giving activists three weeks to make sure that every union member is spoken to about the pay campaign.
Teachers need to go all-out over the next three weeks to build the yes vote.