Friday, 25 February 2011

NUT Executive gives Government one last chance to back down

The campaign to defend teachers’ pensions is reaching a decisive stage.  The Government have had to recognise that unions are ready to act to oppose their plans to make us PAY MORE, to get LESS PENSION and then have to RETIRE OLDER.

On the one hand, they are sabre-rattling about “which schools have a high proportion of NUT staff ...if they go on strike we will be prepared” (The  Independent 22.2.11). But, behind the bluster, they know that they could not break our action.

On the other hand, they have opened talks with unions to see if a settlement can be reached. However, they may just be playing for time. They haven’t yet shown any wish to seriously negotiate.

George Osborne has now said that final decisions about increased contributions (perhaps £100  extra from our pay) will be postponed until June. However, they have so far refused to remove the  proposed £2.8 billion savings from that extra 'stealth tax' on public sector workers from March’s Budget.  Unless that is withdrawn, there is no room for negotiation  - unions would just be left to agree exactly how that pay cut will be applied.

They have also refused to withdraw the changes from the RPI to the lower CPI inflation index. Nor have they postponed publication of the second Hutton Report - due out around March 7th - which may well contain further threats of an increased retirement age & worse‘career-average’ pensions.

An article in the Times (Feb 24) revealed the true Government agenda. In order to privatise schools and other public services, businesses don’t want to have to pay the costs of decent pensions. It states that a public sector pension of £20,000 might be cut to just £6,000 in a private scheme.

The NUT, alongside other unions, is prepared to discuss with Ministers. However, if the Government won't withdraw the budget savings and other threats from the table, we have to conclude that we have to proceed with plans for strike action.

Every Association, and every member needs to get ready for a ballot for strike action. Start by making sure that your membership details - including   current workplace & home address are up to date.

February’s NUT NUT Executive concluded that we can give it no longer than Annual Conference before making a final decision over balloting for a  programme of strike action. That would hopefully start with a joint union national strike next term.  A special priority motion will be put to our Easter Conference so that delegates can decide.

We do not expect to be alone in taking such a decision if talks with the Government fail to make  progress. Discussions between the teaching  unions - and other public sector unions like the UCU and PCS - are ongoing. Together, we must show Ministers that we’re not going  to allow them to get away with their pensions robbery.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Frustration shows at Trades Council Rally

About 150 people gathered at Goldsmiths College last night for a rally hosted by Lewisham Trades Council to help build for the TUC's March 26th demonstration. The meeting showed the growing determination of trade unionists to take action - but also the frustration at the lack of clear lead from national union leaders.

Doris Smith from the Lewisham Pensioners Forum set a good opening tone, calling on Lewisham councillors to remember the Council's motto: "the welfare of the people is the highest law" and asking what the Government could do if all the London Councils, stood firm together and refused to implement the Government's cuts. Bindz Patel from Goldsmiths Students Union spoke out against cuts to the EMA and Jody McIntyre pointed out the hypocrisy of Cameron in criticising dictatorships while arming them with British weaponry. To cheers Jody said that "they could unseat me from my wheelchair [on the student demonstration in December] but we're going to unseat this Government".

Mick Burke, socialist economist, pointed out that we are in the middle of one of the biggest strikes for years - an investment strike by the banks. This was the real cause of the continuing crisis, not 'excessive' expenditure. In fact, he reminded the meeting that there had been no spending 'splurge' under the last Labour Government - they had spent a lower percentage of GDP than Thatcher - and taxed the wealthy at  a lower rate too. Mick correctly said that the banks aren't investing because they can't make a profit. What he didn't spell out, however, is that this is the logic of capitalism. To be implemented, the TUC's programme for investing for 'jobs, growth and justice', needs a socialist plan where the banks are nationalised under democratic working class control and management to make sure that the resources of society are invested to meet public need, not private profit.

Unfortunately, many trade unionists present left frustrated by the contributions from the two national trade union speakers. Heather Wakefield, UNISON Local Government National Secretary gave no impression that UNISON were going to call the national action needed to defend her members from these swingeing cuts, saying that "we've still got a long way to go to convince people" and that "many are still not ready to stick their head above the parapet". TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber talked about having to "win the democratic argument" - presumably a reference to needing to defeat the Con-Dems at the ballot box - but, as a heckler called out, "Labour are making the cuts too". Brendan did make a reference to "serious disputes" that may lie ahead but certainly failed to give the call for joint public sector co-ordinated action that should have been made, instead just calling for "the broadest possible coalition" against the cuts.

That large platform of speakers left no time for debate and gave local trade unionists like myself only time for a quick two minute contribution from the floor. I had the chance to congratulate everyone who had been on the Lewisham Carnival Against Cuts on Saturday - the kind of 'broad coalition' of trade unions, communities and service users that is being built on the ground in opposition to cuts being implemented by all the main parties. I called on trade unionists to build for March 26th - but not to leave it there. I was cheered when I said that the massive demonstration must be a platform to build co-ordinated strike action.

Other rousing contributions from local representatives from UNISON, UCU and PCS were also warmly applauded. Let's hope that Brendan and Heather got the message that Lewisham trade unionists want to take action to defend our communities from these cuts - but that they have a responsibility to call national action.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

700 march against cuts in Lewisham

The rain could do nothing to dampen the spirits of the hundreds of trade unionists, teachers, parents, kids, health and library campaigners (and many more!) who gathered outside the Town Hall in Catford for today's 'Lewisham Carnival Against Cuts'.

The turnout was excellent - estimates vary but it must have been a good 700 protestors on the march to Lewisham - past the Town Hall (where the Labour Mayor and Cabinet agreed millions of pounds in cuts last Thursday), past Rushey Green Early Years Centre where parents face a 43% rise in childcare fees and workers face redundancy or privatisation, past Lewisham Hospital threatened by the Con-Dem's NHS plans, up Lewisham High Street past 'Opening Doors' (the Employment Advice Centre closed down by the Council just as it throws hundreds more out of work), to finish with a closing rally.

The turnout from NUT members was fantastic, supported by many mums and their kids protesting against Early Years cuts. Christ the King College NUT group had even made a fantastic new banner for the day - ready to take out again on March 26th (if not before!).

Labour Councillors were conspicuous by their absence. Perhaps they'd heard that Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance had prepared "Cuts Hypocrite"  spotter cards to alert marchers to the presence of any councillors who pretend to oppose cuts - then vote for them in the Council Chamber. Everyone there was clear - the Con-Dems had to be beaten - but Lewisham Labour Council should be joining with us in fighting the cuts, not carrying out their dirty work.

The only councillors I spotted had been out canvassing in Bellingham, where a council election has just been called for 24 March. You had to see the looks on their faces as Ian Page, the Socialist Party/Lewisham People Before Profit anti-cuts candidate, walked past them leading a group of working-class mums and their kids with placards down to the Town Hall to join the Carnival!

I was given a few minutes at the closing rally to explain the attacks on education and, to cheers, to explain that the NUT was looking to ballot its members for strike action against the Early Years cuts. Like other speakers, I called on everyone present to be out again on the TUC demonstration on March 26th - but not to leave it there. The fight has to continue - and public sector trade unions must take things to a new level by balloting for a one-day public sector strike to defend pensions, jobs and services against the cuts.


Friday, 18 February 2011

Lewisham Labour Council Carries Out Con-Dem Cuts

This morning, I was given the opportunity to speak on behalf of trade unions to Lewisham’s Mayor and Cabinet meeting to explain the damage that will be caused by cuts and privatisation to Early Years services. A noisy protest had taken place outside - despite the security barriers and the 10am start for what is normally an evening meeting.

The Labour councillors listened politely and even expressed their support for the arguments that I had made. But then they went on to vote through the cuts – arguing that they just ‘had to make the best of it’ and that people needed to understand the Government was to blame.

As discussions at the recent London NUT Regional Council made clear, Lewisham NUT are far from alone in facing this hand-wringing from Labour Councils who are simply voting to carry out the Government’s dirty work.

I am sure that I am also far from alone in thinking that, instead of making these cuts, Labour councils should be sitting down with trade unions and local communities to work out the services we and our families need, and then jointly campaigning to force the Government to fund them.

That’s why Lewisham NUT agreed at our General Meeting this week to back the National Shop Stewards Network Anti-Cuts Campaign’s demonstration to lobby the Labour Party’s Local Government Conference on Saturday March 5. The march will be assembling at 11am, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, Southwark London, SE11 (see

For those of you not facing Labour Councils, or wondering why the NSSN isn’t also attacking the Tories and Liberals, I should also make clear that the NSSN Anti-Cuts Campaign is also helping to organise a march on the Conservative and Liberal Democrat’s Conferences in Cardiff on the same date. However, in London, this event gives trade unionists the opportunity to put pressure on Labour Councils to stand with us and fight, rather than just meekly carrying out Con-Dem cuts.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Chestnut Grove not Chestnut 'Gove'!

That was just one of the slogans on the NUT members' placards outside Chestnut Grove School in Balham, Wandsworth, this morning.

NUT members were taking strike action to show their opposition to the school becoming an Academy.

As one teacher told me, the pressure of workload at the school is already too great - as an Academy it would be even worse.

Students also showed their support for their teachers' campaign - they understod that Academies will damage education as well as threatening teachers' pay and conditions.

Governors are meeting tomorrow to vote on whether or not to become an Academy. Whatever they decide, today's action shows staff and governors in other schools that teachers are going to fight the Con-Dems' attempts to break-up comprehensive state education and teachers' national pay and conditions.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Lewisham NUT votes to defend Early Years

Despite quite a few (understandable!) 'Valentine's Day' apologies, over 30 Lewisham NUT members attended the February 14 General Meeting to discuss the next steps in the Union's campaign against spending cuts in Lewisham.

The clear feedback from school meetings had been that NUT members were supportive of balloting for action on both pensions and to oppose cuts. The meeting restated its determination to build a strong local campaign against Early Years cuts. We have already met with Lewisham's MPs, issued press releases and leaflets and made links with local parents. But we also know that strike action might be needed to defend jobs and services.

The meeting agreed unanimously to carry out a full 'indicative ballot' of members to judge support for strike action over two issues: (1) to oppose compulsory redundancies of Early Years Staff and (2) to oppose the threat to worsen Lewisham's redundancy pay agreement. We plan to issue these ballot papers after the half-term break.

As an immediate step, an NUT delegation will be marching in the 'Carnival Against Cuts' this Saturday Feb 19, assembling at Lewisham Town Hall at 12.30pm. 

Pensions Dispute: Questions and Answers

These are responses to three questions from NUT members:
Q) Aren't these pensions threats only 'proposals' ? If so, why do we need to consider strike action?
Of course, before they become law, then they can be classed as 'proposals'. However, once they become law, it can then be too late to change them. Therefore, unions always have to seek to act at an earlier stage, both through negotiations and campaigning but also, because it is our most effective weapon, through strike action.
In 2005, when the last Government suggested similar proposals about raising the retirement age to 65, the NUT, alongside other unions, threatened to ballot for strike action. The mere threat of joint action was enough to convince the Government to back down and we achieved a negotiated agreement over changes to the Teachers' Pension Scheme. We hope that we can succeed in persuading this Government to back down too - although we recognise that, this time, we will probably have to carry out our threats and take action.
Obviously we always have to judge when to negotiate, when to ballot and when to take action - and these steps are being carefully considered by the NUT National Executive, in discussion with other unions.
The initial Hutton Report last October made outline proposals to make teachers 'pay more, work longer and get less pension'.  Since then, the Government have firstly insisted that they will change from the RPI inflation index to the lower CPI index from April 1st 2011. This will cost teachers £10,000's over their retirement. While Hutton had not issued precise figures, Ministers then wrote in January to state that they expect pensions contributions to increase from the present 6.4% to 9.8% of pension - phased in from 2012 to 2014. Under our pressure, they have now said that this decision won't be made until June 2011. However, the £2.8 billion savings expected from this increase are still due to be made in the March 2011 Budget.
Therefore, unions have been saying to the Government that, if they are serious about negotiating, they need to withdraw the RPI/CPI increase this April and those savings from this March's Budget. If they do not, then we have to conclude that the Government is not serious in offering negotiations and the NUT is likely to proceed with a ballot for strike action, possibly alongside other unions as well.
The timetable for that ballot is yet to be agreed but might well follow after the issuing of Hutton's final report in early March when we will then be clear what he is recommending about the increase in retirement age and any change to a worse 'career-average' scheme.
Q) Everyone's living longer, surely we have to pay more into our pension fund?
This is a good question - and a vital point for teachers to understand. There’s no need for our pension contributions to go up.
Of course, if life expectancy is increasing, we would expect to have to pay more to fund the additional costs of pensions. That’s why unions previously agreed that our contributions would go up from 6.0% to 6.4% in 2007. But this was based on a proper valuation of the scheme looking at all the relevant statistics. There has been NO new valuation made to justify what the Government is imposing.
In fact statistics contained in a National Audit Office report published In December confirms that the changes agreed between Unions and the Government in 2005 are “on course to deliver substantial savings”. In fact, the Government Actuary’s Dept. calculates those agreed changes will CUT the cost of public sector pensions by 14%. So there is no justification for the proposed new contribution increases.
In short, these increases would just be an unfair additional tax from teachers to the Government - and nothing to do with funding teachers' pensions.
Q) Aren't cuts inevitable?
The NUT and the TUC, representing unions as a whole, do not think so. In fact, one of the main TUC slogans for the March 26 national demonstration against the Government's spending cuts - which we are hoping will be supported by hundreds of thousands of people - is "not inevitable, not necessary". Economists explain that cuts will actually make the deficit worse
“The government [wants to] cut expenditure. If the rest of the economy reacts by ‘tightening belts’, not shopping, cutting investment, laying off staff, then we wave goodbye to ‘balancing the budget’. Tax revenues fall and benefits rise. And the deficit will worsen.” (Economist Ann Pettifor in the NUT’s ‘The Teacher’ ). This has been shown by the situation in Ireland:
You only have to look to Ireland to see these harsh economic truths. “The massive cuts in spending and pay have increased unemployment and sapped demand, causing the economy to shrink further. Ireland is now considered more at risk of default than before it started making cuts”.(From the PCS pamphlet ‘There is an Alternative’).
Please read further on:

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Save Lewisham's Children's Centres

The future of Children’s Centres and other Early Years provision across the London Borough of Lewisham is at serious risk.

As part of its £88 million cuts package, Lewisham Council is proposing to:
  • Cut Sure Start Children’s Centres budgets by 20% from March and then HAND THEM ALL OVER to private providers BY SEPTEMBER - just like their plans to get rid of five local libraries
  • Get rid of “up to 100” staff posts in the Children’s Centres
  • Close the Amersham Early Years Centre in August 2011
  • Hand over Rushey Green Early Years Centre to the private sector and seek to hand over childcare at Honor Oak and Ladywell too
  • Cut provision - including by getting rid of qualified teachers
  • Increase the weekly charge for a nursery place by up to 43%
  • Close the St James Family Learning Centre at the end of March 
  • Axe the training it provides for staff in private nurseries
  • Cut the budget at Clyde Nursery, threatening the Playbus
  • Cut £194,000 by chopping posts from the nationally-renowned Lewisham Early Years Advice and Resource Network (LEARN)
‘Sure Start’ was launched under the last Government to “give children the best possible start in life". This Government’s Children's Minister, Sarah Teather, also claims that "Sure Start centres are at the heart of the government's vision for early intervention, tackling disadvantage and improving life chances”. So why are Lewisham’s Children’s Centres to be cut and privatised?

The Government claim that it’s all about the ‘Big Society’, allowing volunteers and private businesses to help local communities. But that’s just a Big Con-Dem Con. The ‘Big Society’ is really all about cutting budgets at our expense. Voluntary organisations won’t be able to provide the quality childcare that children and families need. Businesses will simply put their profits first.

Lewisham’s Labour Council shouldn’t be peddling this nonsense either. They will say that the Centres won’t actually close - but what quality of childcare and support will be going on in them? They propose to save up to £9 million from their cuts and privatisation of Early Years Centres, Sure Start Centres and other Early Intervention provision. Not even 43% fee increases can make up that difference! Savings on that scale can only be found by a huge cutback in provision.

Parents only need to look at the proposals to close five libraries to see what the proposed sell-off would really look like. The bidders looking to take over the libraries range from local voluntary groups to big businesses like John Laing. Neither should be running our Children’s Centres.

All the research into Under 5’s Education - like the latest Ofsted report into Early Years - shows that the employment of highly qualified staff, particularly qualified teachers, is a key factor in making sure children make real progress in a nursery, children’s centre or any early years setting. But Lewisham’s Sure Start designated teachers and centre staff have already been told to expect to lose their jobs. The Council will also be cutting training support for private nurseries.

Disgracefully, Lewisham’s Early Years Advice and Resource Network is also to be cut. LEARN has a national reputation for outstanding support to schools and private nurseries. It also plays an essential monitoring role to ensure children are safe and supported in all early years settings.

Cuts to Early Years may save nine million pounds from the Council’s budget - but it will cost much, much more to repair the damage that these cuts will cause over the years ahead.

It’s not hard to realise that spending cuts on the under 5’s mean that children will then need more support at primary and secondary school, nor that it then makes it much more likely that a child will grow up to be an adult without qualifications and a job. International research has calculated the costs: for every £1 spent on Early Years, £7 is saved in later expenditure.


For more information, please see the Lewisham NUT website on

Friday, 11 February 2011

Mubarak goes!

British unions take note - how to win a 15% public sector pay rise and kick out a hated leader - build a mass movement!

Less than 24 hours after he declared he would stay until September, Mubarak has been forced to resign as Egyptian president. The increasing size of the demonstrations, and especially the working class’s collective entry into the struggle through a nationwide strike wave, marked a decisive new stage in the revolution. Mubarak’s last TV broadcast enraged the more than six million who were then protesting on Egypt’s streets and the indignation spread to the military, as reports came in of soldiers going over to the side of the demonstrators.

This turning point is a tremendous victory for all those who courageously fought Mubarak’s police state - the youth, the working class and the fighters in Tahrir Square. It is a huge example to workers and the oppressed around the world that determined mass action can defeat governments and rulers no matter how strong they appear to be.

However the battle is not over yet, dangers still remain. The unelected vice-president Suleiman, the Mubarak police state’s former head of intelligence, announced that the former president handed over power to the “High Council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country”. A BBC correspondent commented that “The army takeover looks very much like a military coup … because officially it should be the speaker of parliament who takes over, not the army leadership”.

In answer to this, the mass of the Egyptian people must assert their right to decide the country’s future. No trust should be put in figures from the regime or their imperialist masters to run the country or run elections. There must be immediate, fully free elections, safeguarded by mass committees of the workers and poor, to a revolutionary constituent assembly that can decide the country’s future.

Now the steps already taken to form local committees and genuine independent workers’ organisations should be speeded up, spread wider and linked up. A clear call for the formation of democratically elected and run committees in all workplaces, communities and amongst the military rank and file would get a wide response.

These bodies should co-ordinate removal of the old regime, and maintain order and supplies and, most importantly, be the basis for a government of workers’ and poor representatives that would crush the remnants of the dictatorship, defend democratic rights and start to meet the economic and social needs of the mass of Egyptians.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Let's negotiate from a position of strength - prepare to ballot on pensions

Talks are ongoing between public sector unions about how to respond to the Government's threat to pensions.

The joint unions Public Sector Liaison Group meeting on Monday 14th will discuss whether the Government is offering serious negotiations over public sector pensions - as well as discussing preparations for joint action to defend them.

George Osborne has now said that final decisions about increased contributions (threatened to be about an extra £100 per month for teachers) will be postponed until June, rather than being fixed in the Budget in March. However, the proposed £2.8 billion savings from that extra 'stealth tax' on public sector workers is apparently still to be announced in March. Unless that is withdrawn, the offer of talks will be worthless  - unions would just be left to agree exactly how that pay cut will be applied to their union members!

The NUT does not accept that any contribution increase is needed - the cost of teacher pensions is already set to fall and no valuation has been carried out to justify any increased contributions. This is just a tax on teachers to pay for the bankers' bailout and bonuses.

The NUT Executive voted last term that we would start a ballot for strike action before Easter. Our next meeting on February 24th will now have to decide our next steps in light of the discussions at the PSLG and reports from any discussions with the Government.

However, as I pointed out at the Executive meeting today, I don't think there needs to be any contradiction between meeting with Ministers to exchange views and, at the same time, preparing a ballot for action to strengthen our hand in any negotiations.

NUT Divisions and reps should certainly be making sure that their membership lists are up-to-date and that home addresses are correctly updated.

We have to quickly ascertain whether the Government are serious about any offer of negotiations. That would have to mean the Government withdrawing any savings proposals from the March Budget. It would also have to mean the Government withdrawing its threat to introduce the indexation of pensions from RPI to CPI by April 1st.

If they're not serious, then unions must respond swiftly with co-ordinated strike action.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Bosses want to break the unions - but we're going to stand strong

The London NUT Regional Council tonight discussed the swathe of attacks facing public sector workers across London - and the communities we support. However, it also showed a clear determination to fight those attacks.

After an introduction from Megan Dobney from SERTUC, delegates reported on the fightback against pensions and cuts. Management attacks on union reps and the threat of Academies and Free Schools were debated. Reports from Tower Hamlets and Camden NUT confirmed that ballots for strike action were taking place in those boroughs against the cuts to education services.

There was anger at Cameron's attack on 'multiculturalism', as he pandered to the far-right on the day the EDL were marching through Luton. But there was also anger at Labour Councils who were carrying through cuts, instead of joining trade unions in fighting against them.

One delegate rightly condemned today's attack by the Institute of Directors on teachers' national pay and conditions. The IoD's demands have got nothing to do about boosting 'growth' but are all about the naked pursuit of profit - at our expense. They know that the potential power of collective union strength stands between them and the destruction of public services. They want to take that weapon away from working people. We have to use that power to protect our communities from the profiteers' attacks.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Libraries 'read-in' - reject the 'Big Society' destruction of public services

My local library in Sydenham is one of the many threatened around the country with closure as Lewisham Council looks to make £87M of cuts over the next four years.

That's why my family were one of many taking part in library 'read-ins' today to protest against the destruction of our public services.

Five libraries are threatened in Lewisham alone in this year's cuts - along with Lewisham's 19 Children's Centres. But, directly looking to David 'multiculturalism has failed' Cameron's Big Society ideas, some Labour councillors hope that they can make cuts, but keep the services, by getting volunteers to take them on, instead of the Council.

But volunteers are no substitute for trained librarians and early years staff. Voluntary organisations - or other, perhaps less philanthropic, businesses - shouldn't be taking over our services. It will inevitably mean worse services, higher charges, job cuts and a loss of qualified staff.

There's no shortcut to fighting the cuts. Instead, Labour councillors should be joining with trade unions and communities in building a mass campaign to demand the Government reverses the cuts. The bankers should take their losses; local communities shouldn't pay for them.

Lewisham unions and campaign groups are organising a 'Carnival Against Cuts' on February 19, culiminating in a march from Catford Town Hall to Lewisham. Lewisham NUT are also consulting with members about whether we should ballot for strike action across the borough to oppose education cuts - just as Camden and Tower Hamlets NUT are doing.

Pensions Robbery - Time for Action

The Government is trying to rob teachers. We must stop them.

They have announced that they want to increase our pension contribution rates from 6.4% to as high as 9.8% of salary. That’s around a £100 a month pay cut.

This money won’t be going to help pay for teachers’ pensions. The Government’s own figures show that teachers’ pension scheme costs are already set to fall. No, this is just a ‘smash-and-grab’ raid by the Treasury. Billions are lost in tax avoidance each year but they want to impose an extra tax on teachers to plug the hole in the Government’s finances.

In short, the Con-Dems want us to foot the bill for the bankers’ gambling debts - and bonuses. It’s time to say,‘we’re not paying!’

The Government’s have already announced that they want to rip off millions of us by switching from RPI to CPI indexation this April. Next month, the second and final Hutton Report will recommend  further attacks on our pensions. Hutton’s Report must be given a clear answer - by teacher unions balloting for strike action.

The UCU lecturers union - including members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme - are being balloted already. Their first day of strike action could be in March.

The NUT has already agreed that it will start a ballot this term but postponed any final decision to see if agreement could be reached on joint action with other teaching unions.

Those discussions are ongoing - but a decision needs to be made, and quickly. Joint action by the NASUWT, ATL  and NUT would be a sign of strength. But delay to go at the ‘speed of the slowest’ would be a real sign of weakness. 

The Government needs to know that unions mean business - and so do classroom teachers. The NUT must start its ballot in March - so strike action can start next term - hopefully with other unions.

A solid one-day strike to start our action will boost confidence - and be another step to united action to defeat all the Con-Dem cuts.