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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 April 2019

National Education Union conference 2019

NEU: organise for the key battles to come

Overworked stress pile stack work books files Alexandre Duret-Lutz (Creative Commons), photo Alexandre Duret-Lutz (Creative Commons)

Overworked stress pile stack work books files Alexandre Duret-Lutz (Creative Commons), photo Alexandre Duret-Lutz (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

James Kerr, NEU Lewisham branch (personal capacity)

The national delegate conference of the National Education Union (NEU) will take place in Liverpool on 15-18 April. It is the first of its kind after the amalgamation of the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

The combined union becomes the fourth biggest in the Trade Union Congress, and the largest education union in Europe. It has huge potential to command an authoritative position in the education sector. But only if that latent power is harnessed and unleashed with a clear strategy to win, something that has been lacking from our leadership in the past period.

Education is in a deep crisis. Funding cuts have decimated schools. Teacher workload continues to drive thousands out of the profession. And the testing culture is fuelling a mental health crisis among both young people and school workers, with increasing pressure because of performance-related pay.

In the ten years I've worked in London schools, I've never seen the levels of mental distress anywhere near where they are currently. A national fightback is urgently needed.

Last year's NEU conference (NUT section) passed an amendment moved by Socialist Party teachers to commit to a campaign of industrial action - for a 5% pay rise for all, an end to performance-related pay, and a limit to teacher working hours.

But the September meeting of the union's executive voted to limit the demand for a pay increase to only those on higher pay bands, leaving younger teachers no better off, and to shift the focus to a broader campaign on funding. We need to learn the lessons from that tactical decision, and make sure what's agreed by conference is taken forward this year.

The 2019 conference will provide opportunities for action on pay. There will be discussions to begin to develop policy around workload, against primary-age testing, on curriculum and pedagogy, and more.

Socialist Party teachers will be moving important amendments on teacher pay and support for school students taking action on climate change. We will be speaking on many other motions.

Delegates will hear from Jeremy Corbyn, and will be keen to hear clearer positions against privately run 'academies', on a national education service, and anti-trade union legislation.

Teachers all over the world are rising up against similar pressures. We need to ensure that our new union is ready to lead us forward. A full report of conference will follow in a future issue of the Socialist.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 10 April 2019:


What we think

Corbyn must demand general election, defend workers' interests and fight for a socialist Brexit


Climate change

Organise against climate change, austerity and capitalism

Only socialism can stop capitalism's plastic problem


International socialist news and analysis

Algeria: Bouteflika is finished but the Algerian revolution is not!

China: police state in Xinjiang under global spotlight


Local elections

Local government in crisis: councillors can fight cuts!


Socialist Party news and analysis

Boot out the Tories - end austerity

Stop Tory NHS destruction

Gender pay gap widening

Them & us


Workplace news and analysis

PCS: vote Yes for action, back socialists in the elections!

NEU conference: organise for the key battles to come

Swindon workers discuss action to save Honda jobs

Southampton Hospital security workers strike

Support the Glasgow Airport pay and pensions strike

London Overground cleaners strike for better pay


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Leicester Socialist Party letter for no-cuts budget

Walthamstow: end the school funding crisis

Reject the rotten NUS 'reforms'

Leicester NHS Trust and the brutal reality of cuts

Social cleansing continues in Southwark

Newcastle anti-fascist demo

South Yorkshire Freedom Riders - still battling on

Gateshead FC crisis: save our Heed!

Health Campaigns Together AGM success


Opinion

Low pay, long hours, isolation - a taxi driver speaks out

'Traitors': Cold War cloak and daggers as capitalist powers spy on allies


 

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Related links:

NEU:

triangleAct together to oppose unsafe numbers and rising workload

triangleWorkers' action wins Tory U-turn on school safety

triangleOrganise a mass refusal to attend unsafe schools on Monday

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National Education Union:

triangleEffective testing and properly funded safety plan needed

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triangleCampaign for school Covid safety must continue

triangleA lockdown that doesn't include education?

Education:

triangleSocialist Students national meeting: Refund the rent, cancel the fees and fight for free education

triangleExams scrapped again - young people need a future with jobs and free education

Teachers:

triangleWelsh schools close for safety after union pressure

Schools:

triangleEast London Socialist Party: The fight for safe schools

NUT:

triangle100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain

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