Teachers in the NUT union were set to begin industrial action on Wednesday of this week to defend their pay, pensions and conditions.
They will refuse to take part in certain duties to tackle their “excessive workload”. The NASUWT union began the same action on Wednesday of last week. In many places the action has already won results.
One group of teachers at a secondary school in Islington, north London, faced a second round of observations by private firm CE@Islington.
But NUT and NASUWT members said they would refuse to cooperate with all observations from Wednesday of this week after holding a joint union meeting. The head teacher cancelled them.
In several other schools, mock Ofsted inspections planned by head teachers and local authorities have been cancelled after teachers voted not to cooperate with them.
Meanwhile teachers at a primary school in Wakefield have won their demand to have a maximum of three lesson observations during the school year.
Teachers report big and enthusiastic union meetings in the run-up to the action. Reps say that teachers feel “empowered” by organising and taking collective action.
But there is also frustration because the union hasn’t called a national strike. Jill Adams is the health and safety officer for Rotherham NUT.
She told Socialist Worker, “Since the fantastic strike on 30 November last year people have been asking what’s going on. There’s so much anger because people feel that every aspect of their lives is under attack.”
Many NUT branches and associations have passed a motion launched by Tower Hamlets NUT calling for a national strike before Christmas.
As one Sheffield teacher put it, “There is no argument about whether people feel that the union should be calling more action. It was simply stating the obvious.”
Teachers are building for the 20 October demonstration alongside their action. “20 October will be a fantastic boost for everybody,” said Jill. “It will be an outlet for the anger and will give people a real fillip.”
Teachers have won support for their action from workers in other unions. Sharon Holder is the GMB national officer for school support staff. She said that GMB members in schools would be “strongly encouraged” not to take on duties being boycotted by teachers.
STA backs strikes before Christmas
The Socialist Teachers Alliance (STA) held a national meeting in central London on Saturday of last week. It saw a positive discussion on building the workload action and using it to build stronger rank and file organisation.
The NUT leadership had signalled that a national strike alongside the NASUWT union was possible in November. There is now a dangerous silence at the top of both unions over this. The NUT executive is set to meet this week and will likely discuss future strikes.
The petition launched last week by Tower Hamlets NUT is vital. The meeting unanimously backed its call for strikes before Christmas. Go to www.socialistteacher.org