The Socialist Teachers Alliance (STA) held its annual general meeting last Saturday. There was serious discussion of the prospect of major campaigns and strikes in the coming months.
The STA is one of the key left groupings within the NUT union and has supporters in leading positions within the union. Supporters of Socialist Worker in the NUT are active within the STA.
The NUT has just launched a national ballot of members to back strikes and action short of a strike over pay, pensions and workload. It hopes to take action alongside the other main teaching union, the NASUWT.
A yes vote is likely to lead to action short of a strike by both unions in September followed by a national strike in October or early November.
Such a strike would involve 500,000 teachers and close almost all schools in England and Wales.
It would come around the same time as the TUC march against austerity, and other unions could coordinate their struggles against the government with it.
Everyone at Saturday’s meeting agreed that the key priority had to be on winning the ballot with the biggest possible turnout.
This means pushing for the maximum number of school-based meetings to engage as many members as possible.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS civil service workers’ union, also spoke at the meeting.
He warned that lessons had to be learned so that we did not repeat the previous errors in the pensions campaign.
STA members discussed the tensions between a focus on sectional unity within teaching and wider unity with other unions. This will be needed to defeat the government rather than simply secure sectional concessions.
It is important that these discussions and debates are carried out among rank and file members of the union at the same time as prioritising winning the ballot.