Socialist Worker

30 June: A springboard for resistance to cuts

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2252

United action: workers in the NUT and Unison unions in Tower Hamlets struck together in March  (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/Guy Smallman )

United action: workers in the NUT and Unison unions in Tower Hamlets struck together in March  (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Thursday 30 June is set to be the next major day of resistance to the Tories’ plans to punish ordinary working people for the failures of their banker buddies.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers in the NUT and ATL unions were to begin balloting this week for strikes in defence of their pensions.

The Tories’ plans will see many lose more than £100 a month.

And civil service workers in the PCS union look likely to launch a strike ballot over pensions, pay, job cuts and working conditions at their conference in Brighton this week.

Lecturers in the UCU union are also fighting to defend their pensions.

They plan to join the coordinated strikes at the end of June.

This means around 800,000 workers could strike on 30 June—making it the biggest strike against the Tories since they came to office.

Union activists are campaigning hard to get the biggest possible yes vote on the highest possible turn out.

That would send a defiant message to the government, and union leaders, about workers’ determination to fight.

There is deep anger among teachers about the attacks they face. Large and lively meetings are taking place across Britain.

“There is uproar in my school,” said Amanda Squire, an NUT member at Woodside primary school in Waltham Forest, east London.

“I can’t walk through the corridor without a teacher asking me what’s happening with the dispute.

Together

“Teachers are feeling really militant about pensions, but they are also asking what the union is doing about pay.

“Other workers face similar attacks.

“For instance, the council has sent a letter to Unison union members in the school telling them their pay and conditions are under threat.

“We have to stand together.”

Many members of the NASUWT—the second biggest teachers’ union—are furious that their union is not balloting for strikes.

Some are joining the NUT, if only on a temporary basis, so that they can take part in the action.

However, the sense of unity is such that five education unions—the ATL, UCU, NUT, the headteachers’ NAHT and the ASCL school and college leaders association—have come together to produce a poster in defence of pensions.

The fight is invigorating union branches ­previously thought of as weak.

“Only a few people have attended local meetings over the last ten years,” said Susan Aitouaziz, an NUT member in Barking and Dagenham in east London.

“But for the last meeting I had a ‘just do it’ attitude. I phoned every single rep and around 20 people came—making it our biggest meeting.

“It didn’t stop there. I visited a number of primary schools in my lunch hour asking if I could hold an NUT members’ meeting with the teachers.

“I showed them the NUT pensions calculator, which explains how much money people are going to lose because of the government’s changes.

“People are really angry.

“The teachers then wrote placards that said things like, ‘My name’s Sarah. I’m going to lose £94 a month. Go on strike.’ Similar placards are up in a number of schools across the borough.”

The action is bringing teachers from different unions together.

“We held a joint meeting with the ATL to talk about how we build the campaign for strikes,” said Eugene Doherty, president of Lancaster NUT.

“There were around 20 schools represented.

“President-elect of the ATL Alice Robinson and Darren Bradshaw, from Blackpool UCU, spoke alongside an NUT member.

“We are going all out to get a yes vote.”

Thursday 30 June could be a springboard to even more powerful resistance—the giant Unison and Unite unions are considering balloting for strikes over pensions in the autumn.

The bigger the action in June, the more likely that it will trigger an even bigger wave of strikes.

Any group of workers in dispute should also plan to strike on the day, to add to the power of the fightback.

Coordinated strikes by millions of workers, leading ultimately to a general strike of all workers in Britain, is what we need to force this rotten, vulnerable government out.

Unite the resistance meeting

Wednesday 22 June

6.30pm, Friends Meeting House

Euston Road, London

Speakers include Mark Serwotka (PCS), Kevin Courtney (NUT) and Tony Benn


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