Socialist Worker

Teachers' massive vote for strikes in Tower Hamlets shows what's possible

by Paul McGarr, teacher, Tower Hamlets
Issue No. 2242

In a fantastic result, some 2,000 teachers in Tower Hamlets have voted overwhelmingly for strikes against cuts.

Members of the NUT union in schools across the east London borough voted by 85 percent for a one-day strike, and over 70 percent backed possible further strikes.

The turnout was just shy of 40 percent—quite high for a postal ballot conducted in a short time with a half term break in the middle.

The turnout was significantly higher than that for the election of the Tower Hamlets mayor who is pushing through government cuts.

Around 3,000 council and school support workers in Tower Hamlets—in the Unison union—are in the middle of a similar ballot. There could be a combined strike of over 5,000 school and council workers, probably on 30 March.

The local NUT and Unison branches are committed to making the strike day a focus for a general protest against the government’s cuts.

We will organise a local demonstration and appeal to other trade unionists and the local community to join us.

The NUT in the north London borough of Camden is also balloting for strikes—they could strike with us.

The massive yes vote reflects the mood among teachers. But winning the vote wasn’t automatic. It took months of systematic work.

Before Christmas we pushed for schools to hold meetings to discuss a possible strike.

There have been many calls for co-ordinated action across the public sector to resist cuts. So far, the national unions haven’t delivered this.

Now we have shown what is possible. The national union has backed our strike drive—and the fact we had so many school meetings was the key to ensuring this happened.

We want to deliver a massive turnout on the TUC protest on 26 March and follow it up with a major strike and demonstration against the cuts a few days later in east London.

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