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National Education Union

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From: The Socialist issue 1016, 31 October 2018: Only a socialist alternative can end austerity

Search site for keywords: Schools - Strike - Education - National Education Union - NEU - Budget - Tories - School - Lewisham - Election

Save Our Schools

Build for national strike action

Hammond described the budget's one-off payment patronisingly as being for the

Hammond described the budget's one-off payment patronisingly as being for the "little extras" schools need, photo David Hawgood/CC   (Click to enlarge)

James Kerr, National Education Union executive committee candidate and Lewisham teacher (personal capacity)

An insultingly low figure: that's the reality of Phillip Hammond's budget announcement of 400 million in capital spending for schools.

Now we need to build for national strike action to force him to fill the funding gap. 2.5 billion has been cut from schools since 2015. This was a major factor in the Tories' loss of seats at the 2017 general election. Yet Hammond still described the budget's one-off payment patronisingly as being for the "little extras" schools need.

The tone was deliberately condescending. This government arrogantly believes that it can face down the education unions and wider movement on funding, based on how they have carried through their attacks on education in the last eight years.

We now need to show their cockiness is misplaced. An indicative online ballot of all National Education Union (NEU) members is due to start to consult us on whether we are prepared to take strike action to win the necessary money for schools.

We need to methodically build a resounding 'Yes' vote in that ballot on a massive turnout. Meetings need to take place in every school - in the ICT suite if possible so NEU members can fill out the ballot together. We must be discussing why it's so important to vote Yes.

We also need to give members confidence that the indicative ballot will be translated into a formal ballot for strike action as early in the New Year as possible. This will avoid the mistakes the leadership have made in the past, such as calling isolated one-day protest strikes in the summer term without a serious strategy to win.

If we take these steps, we have the chance to begin to undo the untold damage the Tories have done to education and to play a part in forcing them out of office.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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