Teachers should vote to strike

By an NUT member

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has made a U-turn in her forced academisation programme. This is good as far as it goes but she insists that the Tories’ intention remains to eventually convert all schools into academies.

Moreover she is determined to move academies away from national terms and conditions, abolish national standards for teachers’ qualifications and remove the need to have parents on Governing Boards.

Schools also face funding cuts, in addition to the attacks in the Education and Adoption Bill, that will threaten their terms and conditions. As well as additional employer contributions to National Insurance and pensions, raising wage bills by 10 per cent over five years, a new funding formula could cut many inner-city school budgets by as much as 9 per cent.

A ballot for a national one-day strike in July and further action in the autumn is under way, closing on 22 June.

The NUT has demanded the Tories provide additional funding to ensure:

  • National collective bargaining on pay and conditions in all schools and academies
  • No worsening of pay and other terms and conditions
  • Real improvement in teaching conditions, in particular limiting class sizes to a maximum of 30
  • Reduction in teachers’ workloads, with limits on marking, data handling and planning
  • Reintroduction of pay portability, pay increments, fixed pay scales, and the abolition of performance related pay
  • A significant improvement in measures to ensure teacher retention, including job security

Teachers must turn out and vote “yes” in huge numbers now the undemocratic Trade Union Act is about to become law. So the biggest turnout and largest margin of victory for a “Yes” vote would be the best way to strike fear into the government and boost teachers’ confidence.

Activists must go into schools and rally teachers for the vote. New ways of involving the membership must be found to encourage participation. In Lambeth NUT members are organising “ballot parties” where members bring along their ballots and vote collectively before posting them, while Unison activists are trying to register local disputes so school support staff can join in.

Of course more than one day of action will be needed if previous disputes are anything to go by. If the vote is secured then the National Executive must rapidly escalate the action so it does not drag on for ages, letting demoralisation set in. The Tories are not in a good place right now and we should up the ante to ensure they retreat in ignominy.