OVER 100,000 teachers in the NUT union are this week being asked by the union if they are willing to strike to defend their pensions.
The question is part of an email survey of all union members, and is in effect an indicative ballot for what would be the biggest strike by teachers since the pay battles under Thatcher’s government 25 years ago.
Every NUT activist should push for school meetings this week to discuss the pensions battle, and organise to ensure the biggest possible response to the survey, with an emphatic yes to strikes.
Activists should also use the petition launched by the Socialist Teachers Alliance within the NUT, calling on all teachers’ union leaders to organise joint strikes on pensions.
The NUT survey will be paralleled by regional rallies in every area of the country over the next few weeks.
In London the rally is set for 17 February. Dates in other regions should be finalised in the next week.
These rallies should be built as the launchpad for the strike ballot whose timetable will be confirmed at an NUT executive meeting on 20 January.
There is unanimous agreement on the executive that the strike ballot will be for “discontinuous action”—more than a one‑day protest strike—and agreement that we are about to launch a fight which will demand significant and repeated strikes.
There are discussions talking place between unions on coordinating strikes, and discussions within the NUT on the precise timing of a ballot and the first action.
While united action is clearly a desirable goal worth working for, it must not be used as an excuse to unnecessarily delay moves to action by teachers. Instead a clear drive to strikes by teachers can create pressure on other public sector union leaders to move.
A timetable could be agreed which would see the first strike called this school term—this is what teachers should argue for at school meetings and other forums in the coming weeks.