Some 500 teachers and parents packed into a joint NUT/NASUWT union rally for education in Liverpool on Saturday of last week. Another 700 rallied in Manchester.
The rallies were the first of a series in the unions’ joint campaign against government attacks on teachers’ pay, pensions and conditions.
The first walkout in the campaign is set to take place on 27 June in the north west of England.
A message of support and solidarity from the PCS union opened the Liverpool rally.
It said the trade union movement had to fill the political void created by the Labour Party.
Teachers, parents and governors spoke at the rally.
Trisha Power, a primary school teacher, said that performance related pay wouldn’t make her a better teacher.
She added that it is being brought in on top of a pay freeze and increased pensions contributions.
This has meant that teachers’ pay has been cut by 15 percent over the last three years.
Sixth form student Jack Whittaker expressed his disgust at a government that doesn’t care about education.
He said the Lib Dem’s betrayal of students over tuition fees and last year’s GCSE fiasco showed that the coalition is bad for young people.
Parent and NHS worker Louise Walker, warned that too few groups were fighting back and too many people were ready to simply wait for the next general election.
Julie Lyon-Taylor, division secretary of Liverpool NUT, chaired the meeting.
She congratulated staff at Longview Primary School who took four days of strikes last term, forcing the local authority to withdraw a bullying appraisal policy.
Patrick Roach, deputy general secretary of the NASUWT, said that if we stand together, we can win together.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said that we have to campaign together, strike together and ultimately win together.
The rally closed with the video of “Chicago Teacher” by American Rap group Rebel Diaz. They wrote the song in support of striking teachers in Chicago last year.
In Manchester teachers spoke out against the Tories’ drive to push privatisation in schools as well as their attacks on teachers.
They pointed out that both damaged education for children.
Teacher Julie Reid said that academies were about schools making “profit”. “I’m here to try to stop the attack on teachers’ pay and conditions,” she added.
“Deregulation will take away children’s rights to have a qualified teacher in the classroom.”
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates told the rally that morale in schools “is the lowest I’ve known it for a long period of time”.
The size of the rallies shows the level of anger that exists among teachers.
Teachers now need to build for the strike in the north west—and to build for solidarity in the rest of the country.