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Fighting teachers' association network launched
Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham NUT delegate
Over 100 NUT teaching union delegates gathered in Liverpool on 16 June for the Local Associations Network (LAN) founding conference, called in response to the failure of the NUT executive majority to call further national action on pensions since November.
Every speech reflected the frustration at the resulting loss of momentum but also a determination to rebuild national action on pensions, pay and conditions.
David Plews, a Lewisham delegate, complained that the NUT executive: "had got scared, but my members didn't get scared, they want to know what's happened to the pensions campaign."
Jane Nellist from Coventry NUT explained how our inaction had damaged the NUT's reputation as a fighting union and let down PCS, UCU and others looking to coordinate action.
Teachers certainly can't work until they're 68. The pressures in schools mean many are already forced out before the present retirement age of 60.
Peter Glover from Liverpool described how many teachers felt they were "one classroom observation from the sack" with constant critical management visits being used to bully and intimidate staff.
The afternoon session concentrated on the new NUT national ballot to extend our action beyond pensions and allow both strike and non-strike action on issues like excessive workload, observations and threats of fast-track 'capability' sackings.
The conference voted to build for the biggest possible majority and turnout in that ballot, which opens on 25 June. The prospect of united action with the other main teaching union, the NASUWT, will help encourage support.
The conference resolved to call on both unions to implement a serious strategy to defeat these serious attacks facing teachers and education.
An amendment from Lewisham NUT was unanimously agreed. This called for an escalating programme of national action, starting from as early as possible in the autumn term, and to call on other teaching and non-teaching unions to join with us.
The conference concluded by voting unanimously for a statement formally launching LAN and to organise a recall conference next term.
A proposal that the recall event be organised jointly with the editorial board of the Campaign Teacher newspaper was defeated. Unity is important, but it has to be on a principled basis. Most delegates agreed that giving influence to a group that includes NUT executive members who opposed national strike action in March and June could compromise LAN's aims.
It was agreed that each supporting association would be entitled to a representative on the steering committee.
LAN, already supported by over 30 associations, can be a powerful force both to pressurise teaching union leaders from below for national action and to strengthen organisation at a local level too.
In The Socialist 20 June 2012:
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