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From The Socialist newspaper, 16 February 2022

"If we don't fight, we won't win!"

Strike action in education on pay needed

Teachers marching through London against Tory attacks on education, photo Socialist Party

Teachers marching through London against Tory attacks on education, photo Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Sheila Caffrey, NEU national executive member (personal capacity)

Gas and electric bills up 30%. National Insurance increasing soon. Rent, mortgage and food costs continuing to skyrocket. Yet pay stays the same.

In real terms, this means pay cuts. No-one should have to make a choice between heating or travel costs, rent or food, but this is the reality for many workers. Unions are feeling this pressure from their members and are having to start to show some signs of action.

The National Education Union surveyed support staff before Christmas and teacher members this month. Socialist Party members in the union had been instrumental in calling for action, and were pleased that this would be a first step towards more meaningful action. We outlined in January that a 25% turnout would be a step towards the 50% needed in a formal ballot, and would help us to identify what to do next.

Well, we got a 28% turnout, with a clear mandate of over 70% of members willing to strike, an excellent start to a national campaign for a union that has been (understandably) very focused on school-based defence of health and safety over the last couple of years.

Unfortunately, the confidence of the leadership of the union is very low. In a recent emergency executive meeting, it was continually repeated that members weren't confident and that 28% would be an embarrassment in a ballot. Instead, it was suggested that, as this was a two-year pay deal, it would give us two years to fight back, and that we should concentrate on model letters to MPs, local days of action and looking to organise a national demo with the TUC against the cost-of-living crisis.

But is this the actual fightback we need? Although cross-union, mass mobilisations are good for publicity and boosting morale, do they make much difference to the government or big business?

Ultimately, we need to hit them where it hurts - in their profits! And that is why Socialist Party members on the national executive of the National Education Union, along with other activists in the Education Solidarity Network, put forward a clear timeline of events and discussions that would build up to a ballot for striking in July.

Trying to overturn budgets in every school following an announcement from the government will be extremely difficult. We believe that by continuing to build on the momentum we've already begun, coupled with the demos, publicity, the reality of bill increases, and good union organising, we could achieve the turn-out needed.

Some executive members who voted against our timeline tried to justify their position by saying they would call for a strike at the 'earliest opportunity'. But as this was supported by claims of knowing when the time would be right in their gut, and talking about next year, it is clear that these are words only, and not the call to action that the 70,000 teachers who responded to the survey clearly wanted.

If we don't fight, we won't win! We need to show the government (and our members) that we are serious about winning what we deserve.

We call on activists in education who are serious about fighting against the pay cuts to join us and keep up the pressure to move to meaningful industrial action this year to achieve the pay rise that is needed for all education staff.

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In The Socialist 16 February 2022:


What we think

Britain's economic growth figures mask fragile false recovery


News

'Labour by name - Tory by policy'

Covid: Fight for full sick pay

Met police boss ousted

Tory stealth taxes burden 'packhorse generation'

Left Labour MPs under pressure over Erdington

'Stand together and fight'

Neither Washington, London nor Moscow

Australian nurses strike against understaffing and low pay


Erdington by-election

Birmingham Erdington by-election

Campaigning in Birmingham Erdington by-election


Saltley Gate

From our history: 1972 miners' strike


PCS elections

PCS Elections 2022: Time for new union leadership


Workplace news

Barts NHS strike

NEU strike at girls' school chain over pensions

University workers striking back

"If we don't fight, we won't win!"

Just Eat strike spreads and forces concessions

Join the scaffs mass picket at Scunthorpe steelworks

Worksop Wincanton workers win pay rise after strike


Campaigns

West Sussex care campaigners' victory

Why I'm going to Socialist Students conference

Campaigning to make 2 March student walkout happen

Stop eviction of Camden homeless collective

East Sussex: Poverty and cuts bring people to Socialist Party

Save St Mary's Leisure Centre

Fund us to fight for socialism


Readers' opinion

TV: 'Death of Two Black Men: Police in the Spotlight'

TV: 'A Killing in Tiger Bay'

How Cardiff Bay's redevelopment led to 'social cleansing'


 

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Related links:

National Education Union:

triangleNEU strike at girls' school chain over pensions

triangleNewham Sixth Form College begins strike against academisation

triangleOaks Park school strike ends following forced concessions

triangleEducation unions lead campaign against Leicester academisation

triangleStrategy needed to bring members together to take national action

Union:

triangleThe Erdington byelection and the fight for a new mass workers' party

triangleJust Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

triangleTrade union support for standing anti-cuts election candidates

triangleUsdaw: 'Reinstate Max' week of action

Pay:

triangleTV review: This is Going to Hurt

triangleUniversity workers continue strike against bosses' attacks

triangleTube workers strike in defence of pay, pensions and conditions

Education:

triangleFighting fees and marketisation after 2 March student walkout

triangleTories instruct teachers to wipe Britain's real history

Government:

triangleCovid: Fight for full sick pay

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23/2/22

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Usdaw

Usdaw: 'Reinstate Max' week of action

23/2/22

Anti-cuts

Trade union support for standing anti-cuts election candidates

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


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