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3 July 2013
Teachers strike in North West
Now escalate the action!
Teachers in the North West were on strike on 27 June in the first part of a programme of regional strike action against the Con-Dem attacks on teachers' pay and working conditions and on education in general.
Merseyside strike rally
Over 2,000 teachers from across Merseyside in the NASUWT and NUT unions marched and rallied in Liverpool city centre in a massive show of strength on Thursday 27 June.
98% of schools in the Liverpool area were effectively closed and this was reflected by similar numbers across Merseyside. The march started at Pier Head and culminated in a rally in St George's Hall.
The hall was full and an overflow venue had to be closed because so many teachers had packed into the venue! There were hundreds outside the venue straining to hear the speakers.
The loudest cheer of the day went to Onli Cheung, a Liverpool teacher, who said that this regional protest must be just the start of a series of strikes until we beat education minister Michael Gove.
The overwhelming mood could be summed up by the sentiment that Gove wants a fight - and we're going to give him one.
Teachers are so angry, that this action, now that it has started, would be very difficult to turn off at the whim of any leader.
Teachers are looking forward to linking up with the PCS union in the autumn for coordinated action. Peter Glover, Merseyside and Cheshire executive member of the National Union of Teachers, who is also a Socialist Party member, spoke at a lunchtime rally organised by the PCS where the overwhelming mood was for a united struggle of civil servants and teachers.
Paul Gerrard reports:
There was no mistaking the mood of up to 3,000 teachers, members of NUT and NASUWT, as they marched through Manchester.
The hatred of Tory education minister Michael Gove, and Ofsted head Michael Wilshaw, was unmissable. Many younger teachers joined the march pushing push chairs or with toddlers in tow.
Gove's proposals on performance-related pay are intended to abolish teamwork, solidarity and teacher trade unionism, and to give heads free rein to pay teachers what they want.
No doubt pupil achievement statistics will be fiddled to 'prove' which teachers deserve a pay rise, setting teacher against teacher, and don't expect to get a rise if you're a union rep.
The spending review has made it clear that automatic increments, which not all teachers get anyway, are a thing of the past for all public sector workers from 2015.
This strike in the North West was intended as the first in a series of regional strikes, with Yorkshire and the West Midlands to follow in the autumn, though by then the new regulations imposing performance-related pay will be in force, and the unions will be fighting a rearguard action with headteachers and education authorities.
That's why there is increasing recognition that the unions are putting a small bolt on the stable door after the horse is five miles down the lane.
This will fuel the demand to escalate the campaign and for national action early next term. Gove's latest instructions to the pay review body to 'consider' removing all restrictions on teachers' working week/year, will pour more petrol on the fire.
Literally hundreds were turned away from the indoor rally because of fire regulations at the hotel but 800-900 heard the speeches and all received stormy applause.
One young teacher who called for Gove to go got a standing ovation. A TUC speaker promised 'we at the TUC are 100% behind you' (why are they never in front?), and called for a big demo against the Tories in Manchester in September.
That went down a storm. If this rally is anything to go by the September demo will be mega.
- Lobby of Tory Party conference 29 September, Manchester
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 1 July 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.
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