The national executive of the NUT union met yesterday (Thursday). The meeting deferred any decision on national strike action in June until a further executive meeting on 10 May—the day when hundreds of thousands of other public sector workers will strike over pensions.
Regional action was ruled out on 10 May following a survey of divisional secretaries. The NUT conference had voted two to one against national action on that day. It did, however, back a call for regional strikes and a national strike in June.
The executive voted by 28 votes to 13 against reaffirming the NUT conference decision for action in June with or without the NASUWT union.
The majority on the executive, led by general secretary Christine Blower and deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney, argued that a decision should not be made ahead of the outcome of talks on joint campaigning with the NASUWT. This outcome is expected before the NUT executive meeting on 10 May.
The NASUWT and NUT may well agree a joint campaign. This would be a very positive move. But the possible outcome of talks should not hold back strike action in June. The NUT conference at Easter voted clearly for action that was not be dependent on the NASUWT.
There is a real possibility, expressed openly during the executive meeting, that the NUT will pull back from a June strike if it does not involve the NASUWT. This would be a big mistake and would endanger the growing momentum of the pension campaign.
Already at NUT conference there was a sense of frustration amongst activists about the lack of a clear strategy to win on pensions. This was expressed in the “joint associations” meetings that were held to discuss the way forward.
If no action is called in June, despite the conference decision, there is a danger that frustration and confusion will grow. Apart from the joint strike with UCU in London on 28 March there has been no action by the union on pensions since last November.
It’s crucial that activists go all out to build solidarity for the unions on strike on 10 May. Christine Blower agreed that she would send out a collection sheet to all reps suggesting they twin with striking workplaces and deliver solidarity to picket lines on the day.
In London it’s important to build the biggest possible turn out for the joint associations protest at the Department of Education at 5.30pm on the strike.
But it is also just as important that school groups flood the national executive with motions that call for conference policy to respected and for action to be called in June.
There is all to fight for in the NUT. It’s crucial to everyone that the union remains at the centre of the wider campaign to defend public sector pensions.