By Sam Ord
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2847

Teachers in NEU union strike committees debate the way forward

In meeting across England, NEU members discussed what action to take next, when and how to strike, and what to do about strike breakers
Issue 2847
A large group of striking NEU members, mostly young, black and white, cheer and shout while on strike

Strikes have brought NEU union members together (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Rank and file members of the NEU education union held strike committees after walking out together on Wednesday of last week.

Workers at a “what next” strike meeting in Ealing, west London, voted unanimously for escalation in the dispute. The meeting also called for more engagement with parents and to host a public meeting and street stalls.

In Redbridge, east London, NEU member Michael told Socialist Worker, “There was a very high level of discussion and it brought people together from different schools—primary, secondary and sixth form.”

He added, “The question of where we go next has been a buried issue that has come to the fore now. People were very much up for escalation but they were also aware there is an argument to win in schools.

“We had a discussion about strikes targeting Sats exams after Easter. Some people were a bit worried about being too disruptive but after a discussion many came around.”

NEU member Paul McCarr told Socialist Worker that in Tower Hamlets, east London, “Around 100 joined the meeting. When it came to what that meant there were lots of different views. Some argued to leave school at 3pm or to only work half days, but they didn’t get much traction.

“Some secondary school teachers said we should pause strikes until after exams—that would mean no strikes until 15 May. Others argued for more strike dates to be announced soon and many agreed they should strike for one day each week.”

At a strike meeting in Warwickshire, workers discussed how to deal with strike-breaking and agreed to organise a union training session to build confidence and links with new reps. Around 70 people joined the meeting in Coventry where workers discussed strike breakers, political interventions and the need to escalate.

Some were worried about strikes during exams but in Brent, west London, the strike committee unanimously agreed that the strike must escalate.

In Islington, north London, 35 people joined the strike committee after the picket lines. The mood was energetic and a majority were in favour of a big escalation as soon as possible after the Easter term break.

The meeting also agreed to not accept any below-inflation pay offers such as the ones offered to teachers in Wales and Scotland.

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