The national executive committee of the NUT union last week voted by 26 to 12 against striking over pay on 14 October. That’s the day Unison union members in schools and local councils are set to walk out.
Socialist Workers Party member Stefan Simms argued for joining the strike. He said the decision “misses the chance to pile pressure on the government”.
“The union will begin a consultation on Monday of next week,” Stefan said. “This is effectively a national ballot on taking up to two days of strikes before the general election.
“It falls short of the ‘series of strikes throughout the autumn term and beyond’ that our conference voted we should put to members. Nevertheless we must throw everything into winning the ballot.”
Some key figures in left groups such as the Socialist Teachers Alliance voted against striking on 14 October. Stefan said most on the NUT executive “see strikes as subordinate to a political campaign focused on the general election”.
Teachers need to build on the united pay strike on 10 July.
“Many said we couldn’t strike on 14 October as we are balloting members,” said Stefan. “But we could have called action under our existing ballot.
“Others said the 10 July strike was weak in some areas. But Michael Gove’s departure could have been the basis for arguing that action works.”
“We need to develop teachers’ ability to act independently when union leaders don’t call the action needed. We should push for solidarity with colleagues striking officially on 14 October. We should discuss the old trade union principle about not crossing picket lines.
“Whether we win that or not, some form of solidarity is possible.”
Suspended secretary Julie Davies in court
The case of suspended Haringey NUT secretary Julie Davies reached the High Court on Thursday of last week.
The north London council suspended her in July on what she says are trivial charges.
The judge set a trial date for 2 October. He ruled that Julie should be given reasonable access to her office and the right to represent members.
Behind this case is a dispute about how schools pay for “facility time”—the time at work that union reps have to perform union duties. Several headteachers are threatening to withhold facility time payments for Julie.
Lambeth College workers discuss next steps
Lecturers in the UCU union at Lambeth College in south London met to discuss our dispute on Wednesday of last week.
We were set to have a joint mass meeting of UCU and Unison members on Wednesday of this week.
Management is still refusing to talk to the unions. Bosses also announced a fresh wave of attacks on the lesson observation policy and on union rights.
Mandy Brown, Lambeth College UCU branch secretary