Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 12 February 2005

NUT leadership wriggle over pension action

THE GOAL of those of us on the Left in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) fighting to save teachers' pensions was to get a national ballot of teachers to join in with a one-day public sector strike.

Linda Taaffe, NUT national executive, personal capacity

But after much hard campaigning by local secretaries, executive members, and other activists, the only immediate action that the NUT is organising is a consultative survey.

Despite calls from local NUT associations and despite a marvellous pensions rally in central London where around 250 teachers, young and old, turned out to demand a ballot to join in with other unions, the union leadership prefers to dither.

At its last meeting the NUT national executive had an opportunity to go with one of three options:

- An indicative ballot with an open-ended time frame (the preference of the general secretary);

- A clear-cut call for a national ballot before Easter alongside other public sector unions (supported by the Left but narrowly defeated); or

- A "ballot of all NUT members seeking their response to a range of strike and non-strike action to take place before the Easter break... seeking unity with other unions... and a robust recommendation from the Executive for the strongest possible action".

In the end the latter won the day. The woolly formulations in this option gave 'wriggle room' - and the wrigglers duly wriggled!

The union's national officers shamefully agreed not a ballot but a survey. Four out of five officers were convinced by general secretary Steve Sinnott to take this line. Only the president Mary Compton voted against it.

It is an outrage for any decision to be flouted, but at this crucial time with other unions poised to go for a ballot it exposes the NUT leadership as both unreliable and a shambles in the eyes of ordinary teachers.

Most, though not all on the Left argued for a clear position (option 2). We believed that teachers would respond to a call for action, especially if other big unions were involved. They were following our decisions carefully, prepared to be flexible on the timing, so that action would be taken on a school working day... but only if we were serious.

If the NUT had decided to ballot, this would immediately have had an effect on NATFHE and then all the other teaching unions would have been under pressure to follow suit. There could have been a national education shutdown. Even the students could possibly have joined in.

Is it any wonder the government does not rate our union seriously? Government policies have lengthened teachers' working day, the previous government lengthened our working year, why should they feel any compunction about now lengthening our working life? No wonder bullying attitudes percolate down through every layer of management and wreak havoc with teachers' stress levels.

Fortunately, this is not the last chance to take action. The pensions crisis is not going away. Ordinary teachers must get active in the union, put some spine into this leadership by strengthening the Left, and de-selecting those who prefer to prevaricate while thousands wait to be robbed by government of their rightful pension.

For more information on Socialist Party teachers, see:

The Great Pensions Robbery

The Socialist Party's new pamphlet

2 each, plus 10% postage and packing

available from:

Socialist Party, PO Box 24697, London, E11 1YD

or phone 020 8988 8789


or buy online

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

In The Socialist 12 February 2005:

Defend pensions: All out on 23 March

Time to make a stand on pensions

NUT leadership wriggle over pension action

Incapacity benefit: New Labour hits the poor and vulnerable

Bolsover protesters win round one of toxic waste battle

Crisis time in Welsh hospitals

Immigration policy: Labour apes the Tories - again

Longbridge workers still fighting to defend jobs

Left victory in firefighters' union

UNISON general secretary election: Prentis attacks the opposition

Financing the fightback

May Day Greetings

Iraq - mobilise to withdraw the troops

Huge crowd cheers Chavez's radical speech at World Social Forum 2005

Socialism can 'make poverty history'

Northern Ireland decommissioning crisis: The failure of sectarian politics

Slovakia: Multinational victimises trade unionists

Scottish Socialist Party: Clear socialist alternative needed


Home   |   The Socialist 12 February 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

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


triangleBT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes

trianglePlymouth PCS members fight relocation threat

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleSet for national strike action


triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleThyssenKrupp - Tata steel merger

triangleCWU strike ballot to win 'Four Pillars'


triangleNewham anti-academies strikes

triangleSchool staff strike against privatisation


triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout



Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts



Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated



Bradford campaign to save children's services launched



Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell



Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos


South London

South London health bosses' cover-up



Unite day of action against blacklisting



Brighton victory



Newham anti-academies strikes


Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting



Unite protest against blacklisting



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee


Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain



Arriva bus strikers stand firm

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

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

triangle13 Dec Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

More ...

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

More ...

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



December 2017

November 2017

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