By Paul McGarr
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2787

Push for big turnout in NEU education union’s national pay survey

Pay is linked to all the other issues driving anger in schools
Issue 2787
Members of the NEU union march in central London

NEU union members march during a previous campaign (Picture: Guy Smallman)

A national pay “survey” inside the NEU education union starts this week. It is the next stage in a campaign to win an 8 percent pay rise for all teachers for each of the next two years.

The survey will run for three weeks and will ask members if they are prepared to back the campaign with strikes.

There is no doubt all who work in schools urgently need a pay rise. Teachers have seen real pay fall by 17 percent since 2010 due to pay freezes and below inflation pay rises.

In the coming weeks it is vital that every area holds the pay briefings for members that many have already set up for next week.

Meetings need to happen in as many schools as possible, pushing the arguments for a pay rise and the need to fight for it.

The bigger the turnout in the survey the more chance there is of then moving towards real action.

The union will have national results as well as district and even school level results from the survey. So all options can and should be on the table for taking the fight forward.

Some in the union’s leadership may want to wait to we see what the government does in September, then restart the campaign in the autumn.

This would be wrong. We need to build on the survey and develop the campaign on pay through the coming months. If the turn-out in the survey is strong enough we should move quickly to proper ballots.

And we should look at all the options for the summer term—from ballots to national demonstrations—along with other workers.

Pay is linked to all the other issues driving anger in schools. Unless any pay award is fully funded it will simply lead to more cuts. Schools are on average 9 percent per pupil worse off in funds than a decade ago.

This, coupled with the government’s use of the Ofsted inspectorate, has also driven soaring workload in schools. And the Tories’ awful response to Covid also adds to the anger.

The general anti‑Tory feeling now can boost this campaign.

Pay can be the issue that draws the anger together and takes a fight to the government.


Fight to stop academy by February

Teachers and support staff at St. Matthews Church of England primary school in Preston are escalating strikes against plans to academise the school on 1 February.

The workers walked out for five days before Christmas and were set to strike again from Tuesday of this week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week, and 25, 26 and 27 January.

NEU membership has more than doubled since the beginning of the dispute. The workforce is now 60 percent unionised, meaning any action forces the school to close.

Parents, councillors and local residents have expressed support and solidarity.


Messages of support to NEU rep Julie Copeland at [email protected]


More strikes called in east London

Workers at Newham Sixth Form College are set to continue strikes next week over bad management practices and proposed academisation. Bosses have so far refused to back down.

Workers mobilised at a strike rally on Tuesday and have called weekly strike days up until the February half term.


Messages of support to Newvic rep Rob Behan at [email protected]


Pay fight in the councils?

The results of a strike ballot over pay by council and school workers in England and Wales was set to be announced on Friday of this week.

Some 375,000 members of the Unison union are voting to strike after council bosses offered them a pay increase that’s well below inflation—effectively a pay cut.

Unison activists have been striving to ensure the ballot meets the 50 percent turnout threshold demanded by anti-union laws. 

If the ballot succeeds, Unison should call strike dates immediately.

But even if the ballot doesn’t hit the threshold, it can’t be the end of the campaign. 

Union leaders should defy the law if necessary—and activists have to argue for action wherever possible, and build the campaign further.

Nick Clark

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