Socialist Worker

Why it’s right for us to strike

The Tories have been scurrying around spreading lies about this week’s strikes. Nick Grant, a teacher and NUT union member, answers the myths

Issue No. 2258

Workers in the PCS union vote to walk out at a gate meeting (Pic: Mark Krantz)

Workers in the PCS union vote to walk out at a gate meeting (Pic: Mark Krantz)

THEY SAY: Strikes on low ballot turnouts should be banned

WE SAY: Only 23.5 percent voted Tory at the general election last year. It’s nothing but hypocrisy for the government to talk about low turnouts.

And anyway, actual participation in strikes is always much higher than the number who vote in postal ballots—often twice as high.

So while 40 percent of NUT members voted in the ballot, the majority were set to strike this Thursday.

Let’s see what Gove and the rest have to say for themselves when they see the vast majority of schools across England and Wales hit by teachers’ strikes.

THEY SAY: Union reps get paid not to work—with taxpayers’ money

WE SAY: The Tories are on the warpath over union facility agreements, which give union reps some time at work to carry out union duties.

The union facility agreements have their origin in the 1974 Employment Rights Act. They are similar to health and safety laws that give reps time to do safety inspections.

We fought for the ability for unions to be able to represent their members’ interests, and to be able to organise and attend meetings in the workplace during work time.

Workers’ elected representatives getting facility time is a right, not a privilege. They’re not on the take—they’re fighting for workers like you.

THEY SAY: Parents can be drafted in to keep schools open

WE SAY: Tory education minister Michael Gove seems to think schools are just a childminding service.

He’s invited parents into schools on strike days to provide cover—in other words, scab.

They aren’t trained to do this, and won’t be paid for it either.

Gove is so desperate to keep schools open that he even says there’s no limit to what size classes could be on those days—as if it’s fine to pack hundreds of children into tiny rooms.

The truth is that with his every utterance, Gove swells the number of strikers who are ready to take action.

Bring it on.

THEY SAY: We haven’t finished “negotiations” so shouldn’t strike yet

WE SAY: Both the Tories and Labour spout this line. But what is there to negotiate?

Our pensions are affordable for decades to come. They’re part of our wages—we’ve paid for them already.

We’re told to negotiate over “changes” they say are needed. But our bottom line is that no changes are necessary at all.

After all, the deficit wasn’t caused by workers, it was caused by bankers.

Why should we pay for it with our pensions?

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