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Solid support for teachers' strike
Teachers in the Midlands, Yorkshire and Eastern regions walked out today (1 October) in an impressive show of strength.
Thousands attended rallies and demonstrated their anger at education secretary Michael Gove's attacks on pay and conditions.
"Stand up for education - Gove must go!" is what hundreds of teachers were chanting as they marched through Nottingham on the day of their strike.
The well supported march and rally was applauded by passers-by as it made its way through the streets into the city centre.
This made a big difference to the teachers who were saying "it's good that parents realise we're striking for their children".
One teacher spoke to the Socialist: "It's a myth that teachers have short working days, long holidays and easy work.
"We're concerned that children have enough pressure already, they should enjoy primary school, not be set to figures and results".
Many supported the demand for a national strike in November, enthusiastically taking the Socialist Party leaflet, and also the demand for coordinated action with other trade unions.
Becci Heagney and Geraint Thomas
Around 2,000 teachers joined the march and rally in Sheffield. Most schools in Sheffield were closed but a few heads tried to keep schools open with non-union staff, so were picketed.
There was strong support for the Socialist Party petition, "Sack Gove, not teachers," calling for national strike action.
Toby, Sheffield NUT joint divisional secretary, told me that there needs to be a plan for sustained industrial action, a strategy to defeat Gove, not just protest.
And many teachers said that they need to link up with other public sector workers like firefighters and postal workers.
At the packed out indoor rally, the TUC rep called for "mass industrial action" and NUT general secretary Christine Blower called for coordinated strike action. Teachers will demand that they keep to their words.
Young teachers proved Beth Davis, NUT president wrong when they took strike action and demonstrated to defend education and teachers' pay and condition.
At a Leicester City NUT meeting she had said young teachers weren't interested in striking to defend pensions.
Yet in a rousing speech at the demo rally, a young teacher Hardeep Kang explained why young teachers were supporting the NUT: "Generations of teachers before us fought, campaigned and defended teachers and education.
"Young teachers can't sit back and let the government dismantle state education. It's our job to defend their hard won gains."
About 300 teachers, young and old, marched through Leicester including teachers from the troubled Uplands Junior School.
The firefighters are keen to link their struggle with the teachers. Rank and file FBU members have called for teachers and firefighters to strike together on 17 October.
This would be a magnificent show of solidarity and opposition to the government's austerity measures.
It could be a means of building for a 24-hour general strike to unite all workers affected by worsening pensions, pay and working conditions. It could force the government to listen to the voice of working people.
At Thornhill Lees I&N school, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, 18 Unison members stood shoulder to shoulder with their work colleagues in support of their NUT/NASUWT strike.
This is the second time that Unison members, many of whom are low paid themselves, have shown amazing support for the teachers who they work very closely with on a daily basis.
We see day in and day out the enormous amount of pressure the teachers are put under, not only to enable children to reach their full potential (the most important part of being a teacher) but also having the extra pressure of the forever changing curriculum, DATA!, making sure all children achieve a certain amount of points progress and the list goes on.
The reasons the teachers went on strike are exactly the same reasons other unions should be striking - pay, pensions and conditions - we should all strike together and on the same day ... General strike!
Dawn Wheelhouse - Cover Supervisor
- 3,000 teachers marched in Birmingham
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 1 October 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.