Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/794/17960
Teachers need a strategy to win
Martin Powell-Davies Lewisham National Union of Teachers (NUT) and a member of the NUT national executive
With the attacks on pay and pensions already largely in place, and attacks on conditions soon to be added, the NUT urgently needs to agree a workable strategy to put to beleaguered teachers.
With no news of any 'significant progress' in our dispute with education secretary Gove, and that's no real surprise, an emergency NUT executive meeting has been called for 16 January to discuss strategy. But what should that strategy be?
It has to be one that is seen by NUT members as having a prospect of successfully forcing back Gove's attacks.
We should also be pursuing coordination of action with other trade unions in dispute - which needs to be addressed seriously by discussion of common action dates between unions.
These are the proposals that I have been discussing with NUT reps in Lewisham and that I hope we can consider at Thursday's NEC:
Naming a date for a one-day national strike before 13 February - as was promised. However, the validity of anything that looks like just another protest strike will clearly be questioned by teachers. This has to be seen as part of an ongoing/escalating campaign.
So this strike isn't seen as a one-off, then there should be a commitment to a further strike (even if the exact date might be left to be subject to coordination with other unions) in March (before Easter, annual conference and the exam-season).
To emphasise that this is an escalation, then we should consider the March strike being a two-day strike. The preparation for this should include collections for hardship funds.
Alongside national strike action, which best hits the headlines, what about using the first strike day's rallies to launch a national non-strike action strategy that demonstrates a clear escalation of action.
The strategy must also be seen as action that is directly relieving the intolerable everyday pressures on teachers.
Rather than continuing to leave action to an individual school choice between the various instructions, can we have action which involves the majority of schools in a focused national campaign?
This would need to be combined with a sharper publicity campaign exposing Gove's agenda and appealing for public support.
We need sharp national materials that teachers could use to leaflet on school gates and every Association [NUT branch] could use for a public meeting and street stalls.
What about then building for a national Saturday demonstration to defend education in the summer term - followed by further strike action after the exam period?
For more on this, and a response to Labour's support for the Tory proposals to 'license' teachers, see Martin's blog: electmartin1.blogspot.co.uk/
In The Socialist 15 January 2014:
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