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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 March 2008

National Union of Teachers conference

Strike back against pay robbery!

THE NATIONAL Union of Teachers (NUT) conference meets in Manchester over the Easter weekend shortly before the close of its ballot for national strike action on pay. There is a growing mood of determination in schools across England and Wales that the ballot must be won and strike action called. At last teachers have a chance to show their anger at the way we have been treated by this government.

Martin Powell-Davies, (Lewisham NUT)

Teachers have already had three years of below-inflation pay increases imposed. Unless we act, we'll have three more years of effective pay cuts on top of that. Year-on-year, the loss in purchasing power will add up to at least 8,000 for most teachers.

The ever-rising cost of living has hardened the mood even during the ballot period. As one teacher explained in one of the many school meetings that I have attended, "Of course I'm voting Yes, I've just received my water bill and I can't pay it!"

But many teachers won't just be angry about pay. We also want to make clear to ministers that we're not going to sit back and see teacher workload get ever worse, class sizes get bigger and our schools be further divided by league tables and privatisation.

NUT conference delegates have the chance to make our views clear to the government by widening the dispute to include their failure to deliver the promised 'work-life balance'. Instead, even official statistics confirm that most teachers are working 50 hours a week or more.

At last year's conference, a proposal from Socialist Party Teachers to ballot for national action on workload as well as pay was only narrowly defeated. But this combined action strategy, following the approach adopted by the left-led PCS, has gathered support over the year.

It has been over twenty years since the NUT called a national strike - two decades during which conditions for staff, and our students, have been ground down by successive governments. This time, we have to stand firm.

It means that most teachers have had little experience of strike action - but 24 April, the day planned for the strike, could be an important part in their own education!

As experience has shown, even teachers who haven't returned their ballot papers will still respond solidly if their union calls them to take action. That call must be given!

A national teachers' strike will close schools across the country and ensure that the growing movement against the public-sector pay freeze really hits the headlines.

Many parents will be glad to see us 'having a go'. Other workers will be encouraged to follow suit. Already FE lecturers in England are co-ordinating their pay ballot so as to take strike action alongside the NUT.

The planned 24 April strike day must be just the start. Further national action must follow, co-ordinated with other unions fighting pay restraint. Together, we can threaten New Labour with the same kind of joint strike action that forced them to retreat over pensions.

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In The Socialist 19 March 2008:

Global economic crisis

Darling's 'more of the same' budget

Anti-war demonstration

Interest in socialist ideas on anti-war demo

National Union of Teachers Conference

Strike back against pay robbery!

Magic strike at Merlin school

School tries to evict pupils

Socialist Party youth and students

Fight for decent youth facilities

Socialist Students

Socialist Party workplace news

Anger and strength in the DWP workplaces

End the blacklist!

Support for Shelter staff

Pay more to get less

One law for them, another law for us

In brief

Socialist Party news and analysis

It's not that councillors can't's that they won't!

Sack the mayor - not the wardens!

Remote MPs' privileged lifestyle

Salford campaign reprieves women's centre

Post Office closures

No more post office closures!

Following the Essex road

Socialist Party congress 2008

Socialist Party 2008 congress

Building a campaigning, fighting socialist party

International socialist news and analysis

Portugal: Strikes and mass protests against government


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