Strike to win! Teachers need a national strategy for a national struggle

Teachers' union members marching, photo by Paul Mattsson

Teachers’ union members marching, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Jane Nellist, NUT national executive (personal capacity)

Teachers across the country are demonstrating a willingness to fight for, and more importantly win, on pay and conditions with a flurry of schools taking strike action over the last few months. But as a strategy, school-by-school is not going to resolve the problems for all teachers.

Nevertheless, we have seen some stunning victories. In my own area, NUT members at Blue Coat School in Coventry who have battled for months with an intransigent management, took strike action in September over the lack of consultation on school policies and won.

At Bournville School and Sixth Form Centre, NUT and NASUWT members took strike action against proposed redundancies. Nationally the NUT is consulting on a one-day strike of members in sixth form colleges.

At John Roan School in Greenwich, NUT members took two days of strike action against the imposition of unacceptable assessment, scrutiny and appraisal policies.

The NUT group in their statement said: “We hope others feel encouraged that we can take a stand and win. We are very proud of our strike and what we have achieved over the last six weeks. We now have policies that offer us greater protection against a culture that values ‘statistics’ more than the students we should be helping.”

The strikes that have taken place have also won the support of the wider community with parents and students demonstrating their support.

But the problems facing teachers are national and emanate from a government that is trying to ripen the school system ready for privatisation.

Socialist Party members have been at the forefront of the Local Associations for National Action Campaign (Lanac) in NUT. Lanac has consistently argued for a serious plan of escalating national action and teachers will need to be prepared to take that type of action to defeat this government.

National action with a proper strategy of escalation, just like that being employed in the school-by-school strategy, uniting all teachers in defence of decent pay and conditions, is the only solution.

We need a national contract that protects teachers from a life of drudgery. We need to use the examples of these successful strikes to build the confidence of all teachers to fight back together. If you fight back you can win!