Socialist Worker

Teachers call on NUT union to keep up the momentum in fight with the Tories

by Paul McGarr and Jess Edwards
Issue No. 2399

Teachers march in London during last months national strike

Teachers march in London during last month's national strike (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Delegates at the NUT union conference have some critical decisions to make over the Easter weekend.

The success of the 26 March national strike in mobilising NUT members means the union’s leadership is now proposing to keep up the fight against education secretary Michael Gove with more campaigning and more strikes. 

But delegates will remember that until February of this year the same union leadership spent an enormous amount of time and energy telling members that we could not, and must not fight without the NASUWT union.

The argument that we could only strike effectively with the NASUWT was proved false by the 26 March strike. 

This argument led to constant delays in the NUT taking the kind of action needed to beat Gove. 

Crucially it meant that despite the success of the joint regional strikes with the NASUWT last year, there was then a loss of momentum and a five-month delay in holding more strikes. 

So now the task is to ensure that conference launches and spells out precisely the escalating campaign that could win. 

The executive is proposing the union organise a national lobby of parliament in early June, with teachers from every area of England and Wales. 

And then a major mobilisation for the 21 June People’s Assembly demonstration. 

These are important initiatives and can help drive the campaign into every locality and ensure the strikes that follow are stronger in every area. 

Strike

The executive then proposes a national strike in the week beginning 23 June. 

There is a possibility of moving the date if there was a chance of taking joint action with other unions over pay before the summer holidays. 

Finally the executive proposes the union should “develop” a programme of action into the autumn. 

Of course this is far better than no strike plan at all—and we should seize any chance to strike alongside others. 

But the executive plan is nowhere near as hard-hitting as is needed to beat Gove. 

Most in the union leadership clearly plan the June action to be another one-day strike—and the vagueness about the autumn is worrying. 

It would be much better for delegates to show Gove the NUT really means business.

We should set out a clear plan of escalation with the June strike being two consecutive days and to be clear that there will then be a further escalation of strikes in the first weeks of the autumn term. 

Many in the union now invoke the success of Chicago teachers in the US. 

We should remember that it was indefinite strike that was the key to their victory. 

There are also lessons from recent local victories here in schools such as Stem6 in Islington but also elsewhere from Ealing hospital to Hovis. 

Those lessons are that spelling out clearly that strikes will escalate is what can crack even the most determined boss. 

And it can do the same to Gove.


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