Socialist Worker

Teachers prepare to take the fight to hated Tory minister Michael Gove

The first national teachers’ strike in two years is for the future of education, reports Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2395

Teachers out campaigning in Waltham Forest, east London, last Saturday in the run-up to a national strike

Teachers out campaigning in Waltham Forest, east London, last Saturday in the run-up to a national strike (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Teachers are set to walk out on Wednesday 26 March across the country in a national strike.

NUT union members are taking on hated education secretary Michael Gove and his attacks on pay, pensions and conditions.

Ruth Levy is divisional secretary of Hertfordshire NUT. She told Socialist Worker, “A lot of teachers are leaving, especially younger ones. They’re working all day Saturday and Sunday and they can’t cope with it. They can’t have a family life.

“People are up for the fight because they know it’s about the future of our children.”

Lisa Tunnell, an NUT rep and president of Sheffield NUT, agreed. “A lot of younger teachers say they can’t see how they can carry on in the job,” she said.

“Some teachers worry about striking because they want to be teaching their children. But if we don’t fight back, things aren’t going to get any better.

“And if we don’t fight now what will education be like for children next year, or the year after that?”

Previous regional strikes had involved both the NUT and NASUWT unions. But the NASUWT has backed off from further action, citing talks with Gove as its reason.

This has angered many teachers, with some reporting that NASUWT members have joined the NUT to take part in the walkout.

Doug Morgan is president of Birmingham NUT. “A lot of people are angry at the NASUWT leadership,” he said. 

“We know Gove is trying to destroy education—and not taking action won’t hinder him.”


But Doug added that teachers are enthusiastic about the strike. 

“We’ve had more teachers out on stalls and more at reps’ briefings than we have before,” he said.

“While people aren’t chomping at the bit to strike, they do realise that we will need more action to win.”

Many NUT members are already discussing what should happen after 26 March.

Chris Denson is joint divisional secretary of Coventry NUT. He told Socialist Worker, “It’s a problem if people see 26 March just as a protest strike,” he said. “Some people ask what a one-day strike will achieve.

“This is why we’ve been clear that this should be part of a longer term strategy that can win.”

Ruth added, “People want action to continue after the 26th. There have been lots of suggestions about what to do, including a two-day strike. NUT reps definitely want to keep the momentum going.”

Gove has suffered a series of setbacks recently. 

The School Teachers Review Body report failed to recommend any of the attacks he wants to drive through. And his free schools programme is lurching from crisis to crisis.

Gove isn’t invincible—and a serious programme of strikes can beat him.

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