NUT votes for strike action over pensions
Teachers strike on 24 April 2008, photo Paul Mattsson
The 2011 annual NUT conference voted almost unanimously (with only two abstentions!) to start a strike ballot against the ConDems' attacks on their pensions.
The strike day is likely to be on 30 June - already pencilled in by other public sector unions like UCU, PCS and ATL. An indication of the militant mood of delegates to this years' NUT conference, was that the national executive committee's motion which called for a ballot was actually amended to strengthen it further - committing the union to escalate action into the autumn term and beyond if the government doesn't back down.
It also emphasised the necessity to coordinate action with the other unions on 30 June and reach out to those still weighing up action, calling for the TUC to organise a one-day general strike in the autumn.
Many speakers reported how the giant TUC anti-cuts demonstration on 26 March has given members confidence that they can fight the pensions' attack and win.
The conference was clearly lifted by the decision of the smaller ATL teachers' union to ballot their members and gave a standing ovation to the ATL general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, the night before.
However, teachers also recognise that they cannot take members' votes for granted, not least in a traditionally moderate union like ATL. This was reflected in the second amendment which called for joint preparatory work with ATL before and during the balloting period.
Disappointingly, the leadership of another teachers' union, the NASUWT, managed to persuade its conference, to delay any ballot 'until negotiations are over' - which by then may be too late.
Unfortunately, NUT conference didn't take the third motion moved by Socialist Party and executive member Martin Powell-Davies which called for all unions taking action to organise regional demonstrations on the first strike day to reach out to workers not taking action as a concrete step to building for a 24-hour general strike.
Socialist Party member Jim Thomson raised this idea in his contribution in the debate.
However, the mood of the conference indicates that there is every chance that 30 June will see hundreds of thousands of workers on strike and solidarity demonstrations in many cities.
NUT members should argue for these solidarity marches locally.
Phillip Clarke, a teacher from Lewes and Socialist Party member, told the BBC: "What that means is demonstrations, industrial action and doing whatever we can to make a 24-hour public sector general strike a possibility to begin the fightback against this government."