Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 6 February 2013

As Gove attacks teachers: NUT leaders - delay no longer

Call action now

Linda Taaffe, Member of the NUT national executive 1998-2008

The national executive of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) recently voted by the narrowest of margins, 22-20, to delay strike action against education minister Michael Gove's performance related pay (PRP) proposals.

Now a lively, and unfortunately, sometimes acrimonious, debate has broken out among the left in the NUT.

Some believe that most NUT teachers won't take action alone. They want the other big teaching union NASUWT to join them.

Socialist Party teachers say joint action would be great - but no automatic guarantee of success. And, more importantly, we cannot wait.

30 November 2011 (N30) - an historic day when 27 unions went out on strike to stop pension cuts - is an indication of what is possible.

However, this marvellous day was squandered because it was not followed through due to the faint-hearted leaders of some unions.

The result has been devastating not only as pension cuts bite, but also it has helped undermine the belief that unions can ever win, even among some union activists.

Desire for unity

The desire for everyone to act together is huge, and something we try to develop all the time. That is the reason why the National Shop Stewards Network and the Socialist Party campaign for the TUC to implement its congress decision to begin the first moves to organise a national public/private sector strike.

The fact that the NASUWT did not support this motion, even though the usually more cautious and sometimes downright treacherous union leaderships like Unison voted in favour, was an early indicator of their attitude towards strike action.

The NUT and NASUWT are currently running an "historic joint campaign" on workload, which is the number one burden facing all teachers.

Yet this limited 'action short of strike action' has not affected the real workload of the vast majority of teachers. They are still putting in 60-70 hours a week.

Gove has openly declared war on teachers. The coalition defeated us on pensions, now they are coming for our pay, and in some areas are trying to break facility time agreements to further hamstring school unions.

The NUT leadership must immediately put all teachers on a war footing. We recognise that readiness to go for action varies.

Union membership may be high with more than 250,000 in England and Wales, but active participation is very low.

It is the job of leaders, not to accommodate to the slowest ship in the convoy, but to lead from the front and go all out to explain why action is the only way.

Teachers need to know that their leaders are determined, not half-hearted.

The mood of anger in the staffrooms should be the barometer, not the fear at sparsely attended union association meetings.

The union must gear all resources to wage a campaign to help teachers see why they need to be actively involved.

The prospect of real action forces the issues into focus. When our members go on strike it is headline news.

The government and media try to turn parents against us, but we must answer the lies vigorously and go onto the offensive.

Working class parents know all about wage freezes and bullying bosses. Every strike day must be used to bring parents and the whole community to our side.

Once action starts we could encourage unions in other sectors to discuss the possibilities of organising joint strike days.

There is no middle ground between striking and not striking. No smart or imaginative way to strike without losing pay.

Calling strike action means that after the first initial day of protest and demonstrations the real war begins. Teachers need to do whatever helps them win.

'Sparks' victory

Take a leaf out of the book of the battle of the 'sparks', construction electricians. After a long and bitter campaign last year of picketing and determined actions through Unite, they stopped ruthless and powerful construction companies from breaking national wage agreements that would see their pay reduced by 25%.

The NUT national executive members cannot delay. The campaign must get started now. We appeal to all teachers to come and lobby the executive on 27 February.

The executive members alone have the power to launch a mighty force. Those lefts who object to this lobby are wrong. Why not lobby all executive members; why not engage them directly?

Those NUT members in Liverpool can also vote for Peter Glover in the current executive byelection to ensure the left is strengthened.

Some on the left are counterposing a lobby of Gove at the Department for Education on 13 March. This may be one useful way of getting teachers mobilised.

But no matter how many hundred teachers turn out in Gove masks, and get TV coverage, the man and his government are not going to fall down and give in. It is the NEC that has the power to fire the starting gun for real action.

The NUT was formed in the latter part of the 19th century in the fight against PRP at a time when other sectors were establishing unions to stop greedy bosses driving workers into the ground.

In times of economic upswing unions took action to win pensions, holiday and sick pay - and the NUT benefited too.

Now all these gains are under serious threat. The very existence of our union is threatened.

We read with admiration about past struggles for better pay and conditions. It is our turn to continue that tradition.

The most reluctant teachers can learn to struggle - and the younger teachers can learn fast!

Lobby the NUT executive

27 February 5pm, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD

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

In The Socialist 6 February 2013:

Socialist Party NHS campaigning

Fight to save NHS

Revolt against pay cuts strengthened at Mid-Yorkshire NHS

Lewisham hospital protests continue

Whipps Cross workers prepare for fight against jobs and pay cuts

Scrap PFI, not our hospitals

Socialist Party news and analysis

Cracks in the coalition - we must take advantage of the divided enemy

As Gove attacks teachers: NUT leaders - delay no longer

Childcare plans spell disaster

Them & Us

Socialist Party feature

Organised fightback needed to save council services

Socialist Party reviews and comments

Cut tax dodging not benefits

Film review: Steven Spielberg's Lincoln

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Brutal cuts announced in Cardiff

Derby Labour councillors 'oppose' cuts - then vote for them

Tamil Solidarity looks at 65 years of 'independence' in Sri Lanka

Support the Socialist with a May Day greeting

Socialist Party regional conferences

Socialist Party workplace news

Workers tell Bromley council: We won't sign up to your plans

Labour cuts better than Tory ones?

Attempts to force Unison branches to affiliate to Labour

London mayor pressing ahead with fire service cuts

Workplace news in brief

International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: Battle for control of mining sector


Home   |   The Socialist 6 February 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

triangleSchools and teaching: A perfect storm of cuts, underfunding, excessive workloads and low pay

triangleEducation cuts forced back

triangleEducation cuts: Tories buckling under public pressure


triangleSchool spend is behind eastern Europe

triangleWorkers' struggles in Peru: eyewitness report

trianglePublic sector wages - Pay up!

triangleUnions call for action after Grenfell


triangleArriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot


triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle


triangleMood for a fightback at education conferences

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained



Tories torn - bin them now


What we saw

What we saw



Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy



Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!



Young people being strangled by debts



The end of the Tories?



Nasty party out the Tories


Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity



Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right


Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty


Them & Us

Them & Us



NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts



IMF helps cause inequality it slams



Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

More ...

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

triangle25 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice