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What’s the next step for teachers?

The NEU union's national executive committee voted narrowly to not announce three strike dates at its recent meeting
Issue 2856
Teachers in the NEU union on strike earlier in May

Teachers in the NEU union on strike earlier in May (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Teachers could soon be looking at an improved pay offer, according to a report leaked to the Sunday Times newspaper. It says the Schools Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) has recommended a 6.5 percent pay bump for workers in England.

Its call is an improvement on Tory education secretary Gillian Keegan’s previous offer of 4.5 percent. Yet, it falls far short of the 13 percent pay cuts teachers have faced since 2010. The workers’ NEU union accused Keegan of hiding behind the STRB.

Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretaries of the NEU, called on Keegan to clarify whether she intends to implement the 6.5 percent deal. “She must make it clear if she intends to fully fund it,” they said. “She must also commit to meaningful discussions on this year’s pay and on reducing excessive teacher workload”.

The union is threatening to call more strikes if Keegan hasn’t “moved to settle the dispute” by 17 June. And workers are voting on a strike ballot to close on 28 June. But this is too little, too late. The union’s national executive committee voted narrowly not to announce three strike dates at its recent meeting.

Jenny Sutton, an NEU member in Hastings, told Socialist Worker this decision “kicks the can down the road”. “We need real action,” she said. “The longer it’s drawn out the more you dissipate momentum. My concern is that there will be no strikes until September. Some may argue to wait for all unions to strike together, but we can’t be anchored down to what other unions are doing,” she said.

Next stop–more rail strikes

Rail workers are on the cusp of more strikes at 15 train operating companies. Members of the Aslef drivers’ union are planning to walk out on 31 May and 3 June, with RMT union members set to strike on 2 June. Their action is set to bring the rail network to its knees for the best part of a week. Aslef members and RMT members have already struck for a day in May each.

Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said, “Ministers cannot just wish this dispute away. They underestimate the strength of feeling of our members, who have just given us a new six‑month strike mandate, continue to support the campaign and the action and are determined to see this through until we get an acceptable resolution.”

The government is really digging its heels in to break the rail workers’ strikes. It is going to take similar resolve—backed by a proper programme of action—to win.

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