Glynwood school in Gateshead NEU picket. Photo: Elaine Brunskill
Glynwood school in Gateshead NEU picket. Photo: Elaine Brunskill

Socialist Party members on NEU National Executive

Hundreds of thousands of teachers in the National Education Union (NEU) have just returned an overwhelming mandate to reject the unfunded pittance offered by the government. Members have now also voted in a ballot to decide the union’s future leadership, electing a new National Executive.

In the last four months, we have taken six days of industrial action that has been widely supported, with nearly 60,000 new members swelling the numbers on picket lines and joining their voices to the fight. The typically low turnout of 7% in the Executive election does not mean the membership is divorced from the call for a fighting union.

Most NEU members see a union prepared to take action. They see a union that listens to its membership, with leaders who make stirring speeches to mobilise and motivate to win on pay and funding. This is great, and certainly the type of union Socialist Party members have been fighting for since five of our members got elected to the National Executive two years ago.

Behind the scenes, National Executive meetings have been hot with debate about the way forward. Some of those debates have been discussed in the pages of the Socialist.

Socialists on the executive have had to fight to have a ballot. We had to fight to have national strike action. And we’re still fighting four months later to re-ballot support staff. It has often felt like our role has been to motivate and boost the confidence of other National Executive members to lead strikes, and sometimes to even speak to their electorate! We hope these members continue to support and lead on action, while continuing to fight for more socialist, fighting voices on the executive. We have been proven correct with every step taken and we hope to continue to have this influence with the re-ballot of teachers and support staff needed this term to continue our fight.

We have been able to put forward correct ideas due to our base among the membership. With Socialist Party activists in different roles and regions, we meet regularly to ensure we put forward a socialist programme and strategy that can take the workers’ movement forward. If you work in education, consider joining the Socialist Party to help us in this fight, including participating in our NEU caucus. All Socialist Party members in education are welcome and encouraged to be involved; join us to build the fightback needed in education.

We will have three Socialist Party members on the executive from September. Changes to rules mean that each area’s four seats have been cut to three, two of which must be women. We have two fewer executive members than last year, but maintain roughly 10% of the body.

We support increasing representation for all equality groups at all levels of union and the working-class movement. However, the way to do this is by removing barriers placed there to prevent those groups taking part, not by preventing other class fighters from holding positions. In one of these seats, there were 480 (roughly 25%) of ballot papers that were considered ‘spoilt’. This clearly raises the need for this ballot to be re-run in such a way that it is transparent and democratic.

We will continue to build our strong base in the NEU. We will push for a strong strike re-ballot that allows for maximum unity across education unions and roles, while making sure that we don’t lose momentum by waiting for other unions to join the fray.

We will continue to argue and build the fight for decent pay, funding and conditions in education, within a union that mobilises its membership by fighting from the front and building from below.