Socialist Worker

Teachers discuss the fight against racism and resisting Donald Trump's bigotry

by Sadie Robinson in Cardiff
Issue No. 2550

Delegates show their support for the anti-racist message

Delegates show their support for the anti-racist message (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Anti-racism was a big theme of the NUT teachers' union conference. Many delegates had visited Calais and Dunkirk in France to support refugees under attack, while others have suffered racism in Britain.

Delegates heard from Juhel Miah, a maths teacher who was recently taken off a plane during a school trip and banned from entering the US.

He told delegates, "The first person read my passport, saw my name was Mohammed, and said you've been selected for a security check.

"I was told I had to get off the plane. At first I thought it was a joke. Still to this day I haven't had a reason why I was taken off that flight."

Juhel said the authorities are now denying the incident occurred, despite the fact he has footage of it. He told Socialist Worker, "The response has been incredible. Everyone seems to want to show their support for me."

Delegates passed a motion condemning the government's failure to support refugees. It also affiliated the union to the Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) campaign. SUTR and Show Racism the Red Card hosted a 100-strong official fringe meeting on Monday.

Laura Pidcock from Show Racism the Red Card said ideas that were once deemed extreme, such as repatriation, are being spoken about more. Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, was applauded after he stressed the need to build a mass movement and directly confront fascists.

General secretary Kevin Courtney told the meeting that anti-racist activity can appeal to many people who may not be active in the union. "There is a huge audience of people who want to live in a good society," he said.

The NUT's international secretary Christine Blower ended the meeting by saying, "Jeremy Corbyn came under massive attack for supporting Stand Up To Racism.

"I think we should say it's absolutely what he should be doing."


Trump not welcome here

The strength of anti-racism was highlighted at a Socialist Teachers Alliance meeting on resisting Donald Trump on Saturday. Over 100 delegates came to the meeting.

Zac Cochrane from Stand Up To Racism told them, "There's been a spike in racism but there's also been a spike in anti-racism.

"There's potential for a very powerful coalition against Trump."

Lindsey German from the Stop the War Coalition talked about the dangers of new conflicts. She said support for Trump from liberals after the US bombed Syria was "about saying we can intervene in these countries".

Delegates passed a motion condemning British foreign policy's role in "causing instability" and said wars had "led to an increase in terrorism". They passed a motion opposing armed intervention and bombing. Another motion pledged solidarity with trade unionists under attack in Turkey.

NUT members also rejected accusations that supporting Palestinian rights or criticising the Israeli state is antisemitic.


Round-up

  • Teachers backed a motion supporting transgender workers and students. It instructed the union to "be clear that it supports transgender members' right to self-identify".

An amendment removing backing for the right of people to identify their own gender was defeated.

  • Delegates condemned cuts to nursery provision and sixth form colleges, and committed the union to look at taking action, including strikes, to defend them.

Paula Champion from Cambridgeshire told conference, "One in three nursery schools have closed over the past 30 years."

  • A priority motion condemned the Tories' plans for more selection in education, including new grammar schools. It instructed the union to "investigate possible legal routes to challenge the expansion of selective education".

Sian Bloor from Trafford told delegates, "Grammar schools do not promote social mobility, they promote social inequality." Unfortunately an amendment opposing all selection, including existing schools, was not debated.

  • Delegates also passed motions condemning the impact of education policy on children's mental health. They passed motions calling for an end to the narrowing of the curriculum that results from lack of funding and an obsession with testing. They overwhelmingly passed a motion calling for a review of how the union's political fund is used. This could consider "whether a different relationship with political parties, particularly Labour, could promote the interests of NUT members".

 


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