Over 1,000 teachers joined an online meeting on Monday night called by the grassroots Educators Say No campaign. It comes after the Tory government and school workers’ union leaders issued a joint statement in support of the pay offer of 6.5 percent last Thursday.
The NEU union—which has staged a series of successful strikes over pay—has stopped industrial action and is recommending teachers accept the offer.
An official NEU meeting on the offer attracted around 6,000. But the NEU leadership is worried about the scale of the revolt. Daniel Kebede, the NEU general secretary-elect, came to the Educators Say No meeting and spoke from the floor.
The meeting was so big that it reached maximum capacity and some 1,500 people couldn’t log on to it. But Simon, a teacher from east London, did get through. He told Socialist Worker the mood was “angry”. “The overriding message in the meeting was that strikes work,” he said.
“The government said they wouldn’t budge on 4 percent, and then they offered 6.5 percent.” He said it shows “action works”—and that teachers can fight to win more.
Rishi Sunak said, “Today’s offer is final. There will be no more talks on pay. No amount of strikes will change this decision.”
But strikes have forced Sunak to make the new offer. He has promised pay offers of around 6 percent to public sector workers in the hope of settling the disputes. He has a weak and divided government that faces defeats in by-elections this week—now is the time to escalate.
Jon Reddiford, an NEU national executive member and teacher, told Socialist Worker, “The joint NEU general secretaries said that this was the best offer we could get.” But Jon said “lots are angry about it” on teachers’ WhatsApp groups.
Supporters of Socialist Worker on the NEU national executive committee voted against the union recommending acceptance. NEU executive member Debs Gwynn urged teachers to reject the offer and fight for more. She told Socialist Worker, “The offer is short of what we were asking. It is not inflation proof.
“It does not redress the real term losses we have suffered over the past 13 years and it does not address the chronic funding and staffing crisis in our schools.”
Shockingly, Sunak has said public sector pay deals will be funded partly by migrants paying more for work visas. All unions have to stand against this racist divide and rule. Teachers have from Tuesday to 28 July to vote in an online poll whether to accept or reject the union leaders’ and Tories’ proposal.
The Tories are clearly worried by the teachers’ strength, especially as 122,000 members of the NASUWT union voted to strike last week. Strike ballots by the NAHT and ASCL unions are ongoing. And the BMA junior doctors’ union has dismissed the Tory 6 percent offer—and is keeping up the fight over pay.
Teachers have to challenge their union leaders and strike to win—the meeting on Monday night showed the potential.
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