Teachers were set to strike across the north west of England on Thursday of this week against an assault on their pay, pensions and conditions.
The walkouts will affect more than 2,700 schools and colleges—a third of all schools in England and Wales.
They come just days after Tory education secretary Michael Gove unleashed yet another attack on teachers’ conditions (see below).
Emma Ballard-East is divisional secretary for the NUT union in Merseyside and is based in Halton. She says the strike will close most of the schools in her area.
“The timing of Gove’s attack on our pay last week couldn’t be better,” Emma told Socialist Worker.
“Some people who were wavering about the strike have said it was the final straw. I think it will backfire because it has made people angrier and determined to fight back.”
Thursday’s strike is the first of a series of walkouts planned by the NUT and NASUWT unions.
The unions plan further regional strikes in the autumn and a national strike in November. Many teachers are pleased that the unions have a strategy of action to take on the Tories.
But many also want to see national action sooner, especially as Gove has gone on the offensive against them.
“My personal belief is that we need national action to win,” said Emma. “I’ll be interested to see if the unions will look at taking national action earlier now because of the new attacks.”
She added that some teachers are worried about losing money by striking— but they want to fight. “There’s a lot of frustration among teachers,” she said.
“We work so hard and it feels like we are under attack every day. Many have reached the point where they are saying, ‘Enough is enough’.”
Teachers across Britain have organised solidarity with those in the north west to show their support for the action.
Stefan Simms is a teacher and NUT member in Ealing, west London.
He told Socialist Worker, “We have twinned with six schools in Lancaster. Three of us are going up to the picket lines to show our support.
“Teachers in my school passed a motion calling on our union to call us out on strike if our school doesn’t adhere to union pay guidelines.
“There is a mood to fight.”
Rallies will take place in Manchester, Liverpool, Chester and Preston on the strike day—and across Britain too.
Other workers, such as those in the PCS union, are preparing to join solidarity events.
A victory for teachers would make the government less confident of pushing other attacks—and give everyone more confidence to resist.