Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 March 2005

NUT conference:

Building a new union leadership

DELEGATES WILL be gathering at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) annual conference in Gateshead this Easter, buoyed by the union's decision to hold a ballot for a one-day national strike to oppose the attacks on our pensions.

Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham NUT conference delegate

But the threat to raise our pension age to 65 is just one of a series of attacks facing education. Conference delegates have a responsibility to make sure we widen our action so that the union can protect teachers from an unbearable workload and fight the cuts to pay and jobs that this cost-cutting government wants to impose through "workforce reform".

Enthusiasm for the strike ballot will be tempered by the knowledge that NUT general secretary, Steve Sinnott, and others in the national leadership, only finally gave national action their blessing when the pressure from below left them with no option.

Socialist Party Teachers and others in the Socialist Teachers Alliance played a vital role in pushing the NUT executive into considering action. But the failure of some of the Left to back an immediate ballot for national action gave the right-wing majority in the National Officers' Group the chance to issue a confusing multi-option "survey" instead.

Determined mood

But the determined mood in schools meant that the survey results from Divisions across England and Wales, town and shire, north and south, showed the strongest support for strike action.

Even then, Steve Sinnott urged caution and proposed strikes only in selected areas. But a national meeting of NUT division secretaries was having nothing of it. Even officers who had backed Sinnott in the general secretary election understood that the union had to stand firm together, uniting the strongest and the weakest schools.

Sinott will be put under pressure from the newspaper editors, government ministers and no doubt some other union leaders, all trying to persuade the NUT to hold off before a general election. But conference needs to push the fainthearts in the NUT leadership in the other direction!

New Labour needs to be left in no doubt that the NUT will not back down until the government has fully withdrawn its attacks. And that means not just winning this first ballot for a one-day strike, but also holding a further ballot for discontinuous action so that we can join with other unions in a continuing campaign to defend our pensions.


Building such a continuing campaign also means that delegates need to support moves to update the union's rulebook. We need to change existing regulations that mean that action lasting longer than a day can only be held if the union exceeds completely unrealistic thresholds for turnout in a postal ballot.

But if the union is now fighting to stop the government lengthening teachers' working lives, years of inaction have allowed teachers' working week to reach well over 50 hours. That's why delegates need to back demands that the union draws up toughened action guidelines that will allow NUT members to enforce a meaningful limit to their working week.

We must also maintain our clear opposition to non-teacher qualified staff being bullied into doing teachers' work on the cheap as part of the government's 'remodelling' agenda.


That struggle is going to be brought to a head this September when new regulations mean that schools have to include a minimum 10% planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time in every teachers' timetable. However, many primary schools simply won't have the funding to employ the additional teachers needed to take classes while their colleagues are released for PPA.

At the same time, schools will be starting to reorganise their salary structures under new regulations agreed by the government and, disgracefully, by the other teaching unions. These are clearly intended to reduce schools' wage bills.

Some teachers presently awarded a 'Management Allowance' for additional responsibilities will be told they are not going to be awarded the new 'Teaching and Learning Responsibility' payments that will take their place.

These attacks are all part of a generalised attempt by New Labour to cut the public sector in general, and school funding in particular. That's why Socialist Party Teachers will also be calling for the NUT to set up a political fund so that it can expose the failures of the establishment parties and help build a trade-union backed mass workers' party that can offer a real alternative.

We will also be calling on the union to ballot for national strike action to demand the money schools need so that they can provide proper pay and conditions for all school staff and decent educational opportunities for all young people.

From the experience of these struggles, starting with a one-day pensions strike, a new generation of teachers will be emboldened to help build a new union leadership that can stand firm at last against the attacks that teachers and education have suffered for too long.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 19 March 2005:

Blair's pensions climbdown

Pensions attacks: United action can win

Pensions - the socialist future

Why we voted to strike to defend pensions

Anger turns to action over pensions

Fight for a better future

What is socialism?

Iraq: troops out now

Iraq: occupation and the resistance

Bush and the 'democratic revolutions'

'Scary prospect' of US economic catastrophe

Massive strike in France

'Third World Debt' - who gains from Brown's plans?

Oppose Clarke's 'hideous experiment'

Good result for Roger Bannister

Building a new NUT leadership


Home   |   The Socialist 19 March 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

triangleSchools and teaching: A perfect storm of cuts, underfunding, excessive workloads and low pay

triangleEducation cuts forced back

triangleEducation cuts: Tories buckling under public pressure


triangleSouth-East London Socialist Party: USA - Resisting Trump and fighting for socialism

triangleLewisham 1977: When socialists and workers defeated the far-right National Front

triangle'Ana Key MP' - Socialist artist responds to attacks

triangleLabour MP attacks local student over anti-austerity art project


triangleTeachers strike again as anti-academy pressure mounts

triangleStriking back against academies in Newham


triangleGCSE grading game stresses out students - even more than before!

triangleCapitalism v cricket


triangleGerman engineering strike puts shorter week on agenda - but could have won more

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



German engineering strike puts shorter week on agenda - but could have won more



Cardiff Refugee Rights gig success



Nottingham hospital black alert


East Midlands

Lively discussion at East Midlands Socialist Party conference


West Midlands

Tremendous determination on show at West Midlands conference



Successful Socialist Party Wales conference sets tone for the year ahead



Bradford protests against kids' service cuts


May Day

May Day, May Day! Celebrate solidarity!



Labour councillors push through savage cuts in Kirklees budget



Save Salford nurseries!



Victory: Pontllanfraith leisure centre saved



Northants council crisis - protesters demand an end to cuts and privatisation



Leicester Uni makes Tory fee tripler David Willetts chancellor - sack Willetts!



Bosses divided - university pension strikes can win!



Chatsworth ward victory shows we can save our NHS

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



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


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

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

February 2018

January 2018