Teachers in the NEU union are taking part in an indicative ballot for strikes over pay and school funding.
The union is demanding that the Tories fully fund and implement a 3.5 percent pay rise for all teachers, and wants more money for schools.
The ballot ends next Friday, 18 January. Stefan Simms is divisional secretary for the NUT, part of the NEU, in Ealing, west London. He told Socialist Worker, “I’ve spoken at between 55 and 60 school meetings during the ballot.
“Members are very angry.
“We need to use the last days of the ballot to make sure members have voted. Texts and emails don’t work—we have to speak to people.”
Paul McGarr is a union rep in Tower Hamlets, east London. “It doesn’t matter how many times you have gone round and spoken to people—go round again,” he said. “What people do in the last two weeks can make a difference.”
Teachers are furious about Tory attacks that have cut funding for the vast majority of schools. And they want pay rises for all teachers to help deal with a recruitment and retention crisis.
Activists report that campaigning to win the indicative ballot has helped recruit new union reps in schools. The union leadership has fought hard to get the vote out. But there’s a danger that some teachers see the indicative ballot as a “survey” that they don’t need to take part in.
Some activists say the turnout in a real ballot, where people know they are voting to strike, could be higher.
Stefan said, “Whatever the turnout in the indicative ballot, we should go ahead with a full national ballot. If we don’t do that, there’s a risk of demoralising members. That won’t help build the union.”