Hundreds of schools across England were set to close on Wednesday and Friday this week as teachers and other school workers strike over pay.
“It’s good to be preparing for the picket lines again,” east London teacher Annie told Socialist Worker on Monday.
“In the gaps between action you can lose a bit of momentum, but strikes build it up again.
“And everyone knows that the prices in the shops are going up as much as ever. There’s no relief so we need a proper pay rise now.”
Teachers have rejected the insulting offer from the government of a one-time payment of £1,000 and an average salary increase of 4.5 percent for the following year.
This is massively less than inflation.
The NEU has repeatedly said that it is fighting for an above-inflation pay deal and that it must be fully-funded by the government rather than the cash coming from school budgets—that would lead to cuts.
The union demands that the government publishes the recommendations of the independent pay review body, which advises what pay rise teachers should receive for next year.
It’s believed that the independent pay review body will offer a 6.5 percent rise.
But it would be a mistake to accept anything that is below inflation.
Instead the strikes this week should be used to step up strike committees and local organisations that can challenge the union leaders and demand escalation of the fight. In the new school year, there must be much harder-hitting action to beat the government on pay and defend education.
“We are standing up for our students. If we’re beaten, so are the students,” said Annie.
To comply with the anti‑union laws, the NEU is reballoting teachers for continued support for strikes in the autumn term.
Even bigger action is possible in September—if workers push for it and action is supported by union leaders. A series of votes could open up wider strikes.
School support workers in state schools in England are voting on whether to strike over pay and conditions.
The ballot opened on 23 June and continues until 11 August.
Members of the National Association of Head Teachers and the NASUWT union are also being re-balloted in England after neither union reached the threshold to hold strikes earlier in the year.
NASUWT members in 56 sixth-form colleges in England have voted in favour of strikes and action short of strikes.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has said it will ballot members on national strike action in England for the first time in history. Voting is from 19 June to 31 July.
It’s good more unions could join the battle. But the NEU must not move at the pace of the slowest.
Union members must push for more days of strikes every week and not baulk at calling for indefinite action.
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