Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1105/31468

From The Socialist newspaper, 14 October 2020

NEU Special Conference: A fight for safety in schools is urgently needed

  (Click to enlarge)

Alex Moore, Plymouth NEU Delegate (personal capacity)

A National Education Union (NEU) special conference of over 550 delegates, representing nearly half a million educators, took place on Zoom on 3 October.

There was general agreement on the main two motions, along with some strengthening amendments tabled by the national executive committee, on 'Winning in the workplace' and 'Building a fair education system'. These included improving support for both supply teachers and workplace reps, and opposition to performance-related pay and the government's intention of "restoring SATs and a largely unmodified examination system in 2021".

The main debates were over proposed rule changes contained in the executive report to conference.

A debate took place over the leadership's proposal to reduce the size of the national executive committee and, as a consequence, reserve more seats for women. Delegates from the Education Solidarity Network (ESN) - the left grouping within the union that includes the Socialist Party - spoke in opposition to the move.

The ESN argued that this change would do nothing to make the leadership genuinely more representative, particularly of low-paid women working as support staff. It could also dilute lay democracy by making it harder for voices critical of the leadership to be elected. Although there was an overall 56% majority in favour, it did not meet the required two-thirds majority needed to change the rules.

That outcome may reflect the feeling among many reps that I discussed with that the union has been operating in too 'top-down' a manner. Yes, we've had some impressive national Zoom webinars but there hasn't been enough open debate and dialogue about the action we need to take to defend members and education.

Sadly, that feeling will only have been strengthened by the way debate was curtailed on the conference motion which was of most immediate relevance to most NEU members - on 'Covid-19 and safe return'.

Given the growing crisis in the number of cases in schools since the start of term, the motion originally tabled by the national executive committee majority called, too vaguely, for "more detailed contingency plans for possible local or wider school closures by being clear about the infection/R-rate thresholds at which schools/colleges in an area should close or move to smaller class sizes". However, amendments that called for the union to set clear thresholds for when this should happen were placed low down the order of debate by the conference business committee. As a result, they were never voted upon.

But the mover of the main motion did make it clear that amendment 1.4, to be moved by Socialist Party member Jane Nellist from Coventry, was not accepted by the executive. This amendment set down clear thresholds, and also added the call for action to protect staff at higher risk - which was absent from the motion. Debate on this 'Covid-19 and Safe Return' was then finished early when allocated conference time was still available.

In their pre-conference video message, the joint general secretaries rightly called for reps' meetings to be held in high-rate areas to discuss exactly what steps needed to be taken. But the outcome of special conference still leaves school reps and local officers unclear as to exactly when the union will back action to enforce smaller class sizes where local infection rates are dangerously high. That needs urgently addressing now.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

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.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 14 October 2020:


Coronavirus news

Locked down, hard up, fight back!

As school cases soar - is contact tracing 'near breaking point'?

Even more delay in stopping school transmission?

National Education Union must launch action now

Nottingham Covid surge caused by Tory mismanagement

Under the microscope


Students

Students not to blame for unsafe uni conditions

"It's not fair" - lockdown students demand free education

Students speak out: isolation and uncertainty reign

Building a movement to fight for free education


What we think

Unite votes to cut affiliation fee to Labour


Workplace news

Usdaw elections: the battle for a fighting union

NEU Special Conference: A fight for safety in schools is urgently needed

Napo AGM 2020: Celebrating probation victory and preparing for challenges ahead

University workers ballot for action against in-person teaching

Stop Royal Mail's profit-driven plans to force postal workers to share vans

Unison: The Socialist is backing Hugo Pierre - for a fighting socialist general secretary!


Co-ops

Are cooperatives the answer to a failing capitalist system?


Campaigns

Stop NHS meltdown

Transport for London funding crunch

Oliver Campbell - Still fighting for justice

Fighting Fund - we're off to a good start


Obituary

Obituary: Raph Parkinson 1958-2020


International news

Greek workers and socialists celebrate convictions of Golden Dawn fascists

Nigeria: Mass protests force government to disband killer cop unit


Readers' opinion

Non-fiction: This Land - the story of a movement

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 14 October 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

National Education Union:

triangleBeal school strikers suspend action after possible victory

triangleNational Education Union needs a socialist, fighting deputy general secretary

triangleBeal High School strike against sick policy resumes

triangleFour Socialist Party members elected to NEU executive

triangleNews in brief

Schools:

triangleElect a socialist leadership to fight for national action and a united campaign

triangleAcademy schools have become business ventures

trianglePimlico Academy protests: "Run by racists for profit"

triangleSexism in education: It shouldn't be like this!

NEU:

triangleBeal academy strikers demand equal sick pay

triangle'Martin Powell-Davies for NEU DGS' - NEU conference fringe meeting

triangleBeal High school strike as management refuse to negotiate over fair sick pay scheme

Union:

triangleObituary - Jon Elvin

triangleFor a fighting, democratic, member-led union to stop the austerity attacks

Education:

triangleAction marks the way for a national student movement for free education

Reps:

triangleSt Mungo's workers walkout

Covid:

triangleDefend the right to protest - to resist bosses' attacks

School:

triangleWorkers respond to 'back to school'

SATs:

triangleNEU conference: Teachers vote to strike over pay and workload

Teachers:

triangleTeachers demand fighting union strategy

Colleges:

triangleFurther education workers win pay rise in Wales

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

12/5/21

Obituary

Obituary - Jon Elvin

12/5/21

Workers

United action needed to defeat fire and rehire

12/5/21

TUSC

TUSC is back

12/5/21

RMT

RMT: Militant industrial and political strategy must be fought for

12/5/21

National Education Union

National Education Union needs a socialist, fighting deputy general secretary

12/5/21

Thurrock

Thurrock refuse workers strike escalates

12/5/21

Ealing

Ealing parking wardens strike against Serco over absence policy

12/5/21

Norwich

Norwich City Council workers vote for strike action over broken promises on pay and conditions

12/5/21

National Education Union

Beal school strikers suspend action after possible victory

12/5/21

Electricians

Sparks fight continues

9/5/21

Socialist Party

Post-election meetings

5/5/21

National Education Union

Four Socialist Party members elected to NEU executive

5/5/21

East London

Goodlord strike forces talks - solidarity needed for crucial dispute

5/5/21

Bullying

St Mungo's strikers fight on

5/5/21

Unison

For a fighting, democratic, member-led union to stop the austerity attacks

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999