Teachers across Britain ended last term by calling on their union leaders to organise national strikes to defend pay and conditions.
This was in response to provocative attacks from the Tories—and the failure by some union leaders to launch a serious fight against them.
The Tories announced plans to scrap teachers’ national pay and give head teachers the power to determine pay last month.
Education secretary Michael Gove then wrote to head teachers, encouraging them to cut teachers’ pay if they took part in industrial action.
Yet the national executive of the NUT teachers’ union failed to call the national strikes that are needed to stop the assault. This wasted opportunity will leave many NUT activists feeling dismayed.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower and deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney recommended a series of campaign rallies in the new term.
They said that the NUT should approach other unions, including the NASUWT, to discuss national strikes next term. But this response isn’t up to the scale of the attack.
The majority of the NUT executive rejected moves to develop a concrete programme of action starting with a one-day strike in January followed by further strikes.
A proposal to call an emergency NUT executive on 10 January to decide on an initial one-day strike was also rejected by 27 votes to 13.
Yet an email survey reported to the executive showed that 79 percent support action, even without the other main teachers’ union, the NASUWT. Teachers at many school meetings have passed motions calling for strikes.
We can beat Gove if we strike and appeal for solidarity across the working class. But we need a serious programme of strikes starting soon.