Socialist Worker

Teachers' unions pull back from national strike this year against Gove

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2376

Teaching unions have retreated from plans to call a national one-day strike before Christmas. The news will be a bitter blow to teachers across Britain who want to see a serious fight that can beat Tory education secretary Michael Gove.

The NUT union held a meeting of its national executive committee today, Friday. This followed highly successful regional strikes on 1 and 17 October alongside the NASUWT union.

Unions had previously said they would call a national strike before Christmas. But now they say they will reconsider action next year instead.

Union leaders say they will hold a national strike no later than 13 February if there isn't an "acceptable resolution" to the dispute.

Socialist Workers Party members on the NUT NEC supported a proposal to strike on 27 November with a mass lobby of parliament even if the NASUWT would not take part.

This was lost by 26 votes to 10.

Nick Grant is a member of the NUT NEC and the Socialist Workers Party. He told Socialist Worker, "It is a great shame that the key unions have stalled the momentum of excellent recent regional strikes. This comes at a time when Gove is under increasing criticism from a wide range of sources.

"The Local Schools Network, for example, has shown this week that Gove is a blatant liar. His 'free' schools are failing."

Union leaders say they have postponed planned strikes because Gove is willing to hold meaningful talks. These is no evidence for this.

Instead, union leaders say the strikes have helped force Gove "into a position where he has to look like he is willing to engage in talks".

Gove sent a letter to union leaders claiming he was "happy to meet" to discuss their concerns. This is dated 17 September 2013. It isn't clear what has changed since then.

In any case, Gove's letter makes clear, "The government's policy direction on pay and pensions is fixed.

"I am fully committed to the changes to both pay and pensions."

It's a mistake to call off strikes for possible talks. The aim of the teachers' strikes should not be talks with a government minister hellbent on attacking them. 

It should be to end the attacks on teachers' pay, pensions and conditions - and to stop these requires a programme of serious action. Postponing action threatens to squander the momentum that teachers have built up so far in the campaign.

The success of the action that has been called so far shows that teachers are prepared to fight. Teachers must make a concerted effort in the teaching unions to get enough action to force Gove back.


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