Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 27 March 2013

NUT teachers conference: serious attacks require serious action

Martin Powell-Davis, NUT national executive
NUT and UCU strike action in London on 28 March 2012 , photo by Senan

NUT and UCU strike action in London on 28 March 2012 , photo by Senan   (Click to enlarge)

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) Conference 2013 meets to debate how best to defend teachers at a time when education as a whole is under fierce attack.

As the best organised teaching union, the NUT has a huge responsibility to use its strength to push back a government determined to drive through an agenda of cuts and privatisation.

If teachers go out and explain how the Con-Dems' attacks on pensions, pay and conditions are part of a broader attack on education, large sections of the public can be won to support our action, just as they were when unions took national action in 2011.

Martin Powell Davies, photo Paul Mattsson

Martin Powell Davies, photo Paul Mattsson

Since then the full horror of the government's attacks is more widely understood. If we organise effectively and mobilise around a clear programme of action, then we can force them to retreat.

Tory minister Michael Gove has talked of declaring 'war' on the teaching unions because he knows our potential strength.

When we take action, thousands of schools are closed, working lives and the economy widely disrupted, trade union opposition to cuts clearly displayed in every community.

This government is not confident that it can push through its plans. It knows that, beneath the surface there is massive discontent at the banksters and the super-rich, who the government represents.

With its cuts packages threatening a 'triple-dip' recession, the Coalition is struggling to show that it has any solution to the continuing economic crisis.

Yet throughout 2012, the Con-Dems must hardly have been able to believe their luck. The retreat by unions such as Unison and ATL over pensions left other unions isolated and significant joint national action was not repeated again since November 2011.

That retreat also left some in the NUT leadership seemingly struggling with a crisis of confidence.

Instead of leading the way, as the NUT had done in June 2011, last year NUT only called a London regional strike which, although confirming that teachers would take action when a lead is given, wasn't then followed by further major action.

For over three months after Gove announced his performance-pay attacks in early December, no strike plans were announced.

Even the publicity for members seemed strangely muted. Leaflets had to be produced by Local Associations, 'Classroom Teacher' and others, from below.


The leadership seemed to draw the conclusion that the NUT can't act alone - it has to make sure the NASUWT acts with us too.

Of course unions acting together adds strength - that's why the Socialist Party has been to the fore in campaigning for the TUC to discuss and build generalised strike action.

However, there's a balance to be struck at each stage between the benefits of taking joint action and the risks of having to go at the speed of the slowest partner.

The NASUWT remains a difficult partner to negotiate with - certainly at the top. Hopefully, out of joint action, links can be strengthened from below that can also put pressure on the NASUWT tops to maintain action.

The joint NASUWT/NUT 'action short of strike action' has won some gains and helped build union organisation in some schools.

However, school-by-school action asks a lot of local union organisation and has inevitably been 'patchy'. Localised battles are no substitute for national strike action to win our demands.

On pensions, we need to reverse the increased pension ages and win a pay rise that gives us back what we have lost to inflation and contribution increases.

On workload we need to win the 35-hour limit on working hours, with a maximum of 20 hours pupil contact time, listed in Motion 55.

Immediately, we have to fight to reverse the severe attacks on pay that will soon be legislated for in the Pay and Conditions Document.

Immediately, we have to build and escalate action on PRP. The NUT/NASUWT programme marks, at last, a return to action, but it needs strengthening.

It should start with a day of national strike action, linking with the PCS civil service union in June.

It would be best if this involved the NASUWT but the NUT must be prepared to take this step without other teaching unions if necessary.

If the NUT gives a bold lead then NASUWT members will demand that their leadership joins the action. The plans for the autumn term need to be announced and dates set for further escalating action in 2014.

This article is based on material in the Socialist Party bulletin at NUT conference. See the blogs of Socialist Party NUT executive members: and

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 27 March 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Bin the bedroom tax: Can't pay - Will stay!

NUT conference: Serious attacks require serious action

Cameron whips up immigration fears to divide movement against austerity

What does the budget really mean for the housing crisis?

Fight the destruction of our NHS across England and Wales

The 'workfare bill' and sanctions targets

Them & Us: Budget special

International socialist news and analysis

Cyprus bailout: Return of the eurozone crisis

South Africa: Workers and Socialist Party Launched

Socialist Party workplace news

PCS budget day strike - M20

Thera care workers prepare for action

Striking against the 'fast track to the sack'

Workplace News in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Sussex university occupation: 'they say privatise - we fight back and organise'

Why we're standing for TUSC

Sick of Your Boss gets going in London

Fighting the cuts: Birmingham and Exeter

Socialist Party appeals

The Socialist: readers' comments

Disability hate crimes - accomplices and victims

Danger: New secret courts in Britain


Home   |   The Socialist 27 March 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleMoney doesn't make up for cuts - education unions must organise for funding and against Tory attacks

triangleLeicestershire - No more austerity!

triangleNEU conference: organise for the key battles to come

triangleGovernment fails to deliver on funding and teachers' pay - demand action to win 5%

triangleNEU conference: Teachers vote to strike over pay and workload


triangleCarlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleIlford: parents and teachers unite against school cuts

triangleAcademy strike - standing up to 'bullying' management forces climbdown


triangleBirmingham school strike for safe working environment

triangleHarrogate academy workers strike against closure

triangleLeicester college pay strike goes on


triangleThe Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019

triangleStrikes: more determined than ever


triangleSouth African Airways workers win wage increase after strike action


triangleNorthern Ireland: Health workers take action over understaffing and pay equality


triangleSave education - Kick out the Tories

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



End profiteering from health - nationalise big pharma



Prepare now for the struggles after 12 December


The Socialist

Keep up to date with our election coverage



News in brief



Hillsborough justice eluded



Unite against terrorism, racism, war and austerity


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland: strike action by NHS workers



Resist attacks against free speech on campus



End council cuts now, to end Tory austerity!



Tories launch 'non manifesto'



Labour's manifesto: fight to transform hope into a socialist society



Prince Andrew outrage exposes establishment



Tory election campaign's dirty tricks and lies



Wages flatline, while shareholders profit



Broadband: privatisation has failed to deliver, time for a socialist plan

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019