Teachers in the NUT union have less than two weeks to build the yes vote in their national ballot for strike action over pay.
Teachers are angry that they are expected to accept a three-year below-inflation pay deal. But there have been arguments over whether strike action is the right way forward.
George Arthur is an NUT rep at a primary school in Barnsley. He told Socialist Worker, “People in my school are concerned about the economic situation – and some are feeling nervous. But when you put the arguments to people you can win them round.”
Jess Edwards, a young teachers’ officer for the NUT in Lambeth, south London, agrees. “From the meetings I’ve been at, it’s clear that teachers have lots of questions – can the government afford to pay us? Is it right to go on strike now?
“Teachers are angry over pay. But we need to make sure that their questions are addressed if we are to win the vote.”
Des Barrow is an NUT rep at Clapton Girls technology college in Hackney, east London. He told Socialist Worker, “I’m confident that we’ll win a strong yes vote in my school.
“Teachers here have a lot of confidence following the strike action we took in April this year. We know that we deserve decent pay.”
A sign of the mood over pay came this week from NUT members employed in sixth form colleges, who are not part of the ongoing strike ballot.
They voted by 60 percent in favour of strike action over their below-inflation pay offer. The NUT will now write to all sixth form employers to tell them that their pay offer has been rejected.
If new pay offers are not made within seven days, individual colleges will then be balloted for strike action. This could see thousands more NUT members joining the pay campaign.
Over the next few days, activists must make sure that every NUT member is spoken to about why strike action is the only way to smash Brown’s pay freeze – and why they should vote yes in their ballot.
The NUT’s LGBT conference met last weekend and passed policy supporting anti-fascist campaigns such as Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism. The motion will also be debated at the NUT’s full national conference next year.