Saturday, 31 March 2012

PENSIONS: National Action is still the way to win

Teachers on the march through London
The success of the March 28 London strike was of vital importance to the ongoing joint pensions campaign. Central London was filled with around 8,000 NUT and UCU members on the march, many of them young staff angry at the idea that they should have to work on to 68.

After the massive show of trade union strength and unity on November 30, this Government could not have believed its luck when, just a few weeks later, the leaders of unions like ATL and UNISON retreated and accepted the unacceptable terms of the ‘Heads of Agreement’ deal.

Weakness has only invited further attacks. While giving even more away to the wealthy top 1%, Osborne announced in the Budget that pension ages will be rising even faster. A teacher in their 20s might now have to work into their 70s to get their full pension!

This government of millionaires is just doing what their backers have asked of them - to bailout big business after the financial mess they created at our expense. Making us pay more for pensions - while employers pay less - also helps the profiteers taking over our services. Unions need to be fighting just as hard for their members, and for the millions that rely on public services, as the ConDems are for the millionaires.

While others ran for cover, unions like the NUT, UCU and PCS stood firm and regrouped, preparing their members for further national action on March 28. But even the NUT leadership hesitated at the last - and opted for a strike only across the London Region.

The response to the strike - with even the DfE having to admit it caused ‘significant’ disruption - was a clear answer to all the faint-hearts who said that trade unionists had no stomach for continuing the fight. 

Nobody takes strike action lightly, but, when it came to the crunch, thousands of London NUT and UCU members concluded that they had no choice but to do so. They knew that they just could’t afford to let the ConDems get away with their pensions robbery, nor give them confidence to push ahead with all their other attacks on our pay and conditions. 

But, while agreeing to strike, many London members were extremely critical of the decision to go for just a regional action.

The NUT members’ survey results didn’t justify the decision. London was certainly not the only region that voted strongly in support of ongoing action. But it was left to the London NUT membership, and the hard work of local officers and school reps, to show that, given a lead, teachers will stand together. 

But where do we go from here?

The Pensions Priority Motion for NUT Conference proposes a flexible formula of “bringing all other regions and Wales, in turn or together, into pensions action”. 

If NUT Conference votes to support regional action, then a clear and speedy calendar of rolling strikes needs to be announced. But Socialist Party Teachers believes that it would be much better to call out everyone together in a national strike, supported by other unions.

Regional action may spread out the ‘pain’ of losing pay through strike action for a little longer, but to what effect overall? The lesson of the London strike was that many teachers felt regional action could be too easily ignored - and the press did, indeed, try to do so.

Nobody wants to give up a day’s pay for the sake of it. Teachers need to know that their sacrifice is worth making - as it has been with the concessions won so far. It was national action that achieved it - and can do so again.

We should try to bring the NASUWT on board - and discuss joint workload action too - but we cannot hold back on pensions strike action if the NASUWT will not agree to co-ordinate with the NUT and others who may well be prepared to do so - like PCS, UCU UCAC, EIS, NIPSA & UNITE Health.

The action cannot be just a ‘one-off’. We need to set a calendar of ongoing action so that Ministers, and trade unionists, know we are serious. We should consider a two day strike to escalate pressure too.

United national action is our most effective weapon. National strikes are also far easier to co-ordinate with other fighting unions, like the PCS, than regional actions. They are depending on the NUT to back a day of national strike action soon after Easter - and we have a responsibility to agree to do so.

What about action on May 1st - with its significance for the trade union movement? That would certainly get publicity and attract wider union support. It would also be a date we can successfully build for from NUT Annual Conference.

INTO / UTU - A work-to-rule with teeth?

NUT members may not be aware that is other work-to-rule action going on apart from the NASUWT action.

Coventry and Lewisham NUT have an amendment on this Easter's NUT Annual Conference agenda (30.2) referring to action in Northern Ireland - the article below from the Socialist Party Teachers' Conference bulletin explains what the action entails.

Just think what we could achieve if NUT, NASUWT and ATL members agreed on joint action on both this kind of action 'short of strike action' as well as joint strike action to defend pensions!

A report from Northern Ireland:

 Mary Cahillane INTO Central Executive Committee District 1 Northern Ireland

“If an inspector comes into your classroom, you stop teaching, tell your class to stop what they’re doing and inform the inspector that you are on industrial action”.

INTO (the Irish National Teachers Organisation) and our sister union the UTU (Ulster Teachers’ Union) began its action ‘short of strike’ straight after our very successful strike action on November 30.

Our action has four main strands:

1. No co-operation with the ETI (our equivalent to Ofsted)
In the face of hostility and extreme pressure (particularly in small schools) our members have stood firm and solid on this action and they are to be congratulated. They have been directed to give no documentation, policies or data to the ETI and if an inspector enters an INTO members classroom the member is instructed to stop teaching and inform the inspector that they are on industrial action.

According to the Belfast Telegraph of 14 March, "the school inspections system has been plunged into chaos”. In essence the INTO/UTU action has stopped the inspection process in any school where both unions have a sizeable membership.

2. Directed time and meetings
Teachers are directed to teach their teaching hours only, that is 25 hours in a primary school and 23.5 hours in a post-primary school. PPA will continue in a place of their choosing which can be on or off the school premises. In our climate of over 3,000 compulsory redundancies we have allowed one staff meeting lasting no longer than one hour per fortnight for information purposes. There must be one weeks advance notice and an agenda given for this meeting. There are no parent-teacher meetings unless they are held during the normal teaching day. Baker Days, Exceptional Closures and SID days are all used for Planning Preparation and Assessment and one staff meeting of one hour if necessary.

This action is very popular with members. It has put an end to the endless, pointless after school meetings that previously took place. Teachers have adequate time to plan and prepare and they have regained some kind of work-life balance. Again members have been threatened with breach of contract / salary deduction but have stood firm nevertheless.

3. Pupil Data
In our data driven system, which is more interested in league tables than educating pupils, the last part of our action directs members not to input any data that can be accessed by any external agencies into our IT systems. This has the effect of choking the DENI's data systems. They cannot make or use any comparative data to use against schools and therefore cannot measure performance. Internal assessments, end of year reports to parents etc continue in the normal way but for internal school and parents’ use only.

4. We are not implementing any new assessment arrangements.

Previous INTO work to rule actions have caused some confusion and have generated a lot of queries. The present action is very clear and leaves no room for doubt. Since beginning our action our membership has risen by over 17% - a staggering number in such a small teaching workforce - but also an indication that teachers will carry out tough action when given clear leadership and clear guidance even under circumstances of extreme pressure.

Industrial action short of strike can’t be a substitute for co-ordinated and sustained strike action on pensions. At best it is a tactic that keeps teachers aware until the next strike takes place. In the meantime it does have the effect of giving teachers space and, because we are having to pay more and work longer, then we will DO LESS and LIVE LONGER.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

March 28 - report and photos of London's solid strike action

Today's London regional strike and rally to defend pensions exceeded all expectations! Thousands of schools and colleges were affected by the strike action taken by members of both the NUT and UCU unions...more below

For a video report explaining why I back the call for national action, see

London NUT on strike to defend pensions

March 28 is the day when London NUT and UCU members show the Government - and our trade union colleagues who we want to see out in action with us next term - that the battle from pensions is far from over.

Teachers and lecturers have responded well to the call from their unions to take action. Even the DfE have had to admit that a 'significant' number of schools across London will be closed or partially closed by our action today. 

We know that we can't afford to see our pay cut or let the Government get away with hiking our pensions ages up to 68 or higher. That's why we're on strike today.

A demonstration will assemble in Malet Street at 11am and go through the centre of the capital to the Department of Education. We'll also be joined by Visteon pensioners also protesting about the robbery of their private-sector pensions too.  

Breakfast arrives on the Sydenham School picket line

A passing street sweeper wishes pickets well and tells us "They want us all dead before we can retire so they don't have to pay any pensions" ...


Mr Cameron joins the picket line at Ladywell Fields !

Lots of messages of support are coming in from across the country:

Here's one from Cardiff:

On behalf of Cardiff Trades Council I wish to offer our Solidarity and Support to you and all NUT members who are taking action in London today.
Whilst we appreciate the strike has been called today only in London we know there are may comrades across the UK and particularly in Wales who are thinking of you today.  Whilst we would have preferred today's action to have been wider, in terms of the unions involved, we know the fight for Pension Justice, for our Public Sector Workers is ongoing.

... and one from Northampton:

Best wishes and solidarity for your strike on Wed 28th March in defence of teachers' pensions.
This is a campaign we cannot afford to lose - Teachers and public sector workers must not be made to pay for economic problems not of our own making. Pat Markey, Secretary Northampton NUT

... and from Remploy workers fighting for their jobs:

Fraternal greetings to all who are on strike today in defence of their pensions and to all others in struggle who are fighting in the biggest class war since the start of the industrial revolution from the consortium and delegates at the Remploy conference.
Fight together agitate together and win together. Hasta La Victoria Siempre comrades,  Les Woodward

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

March 28 - London shows the way


Every striking London teacher and lecturer should be proud of the stand they are taking on March 28. 

After the massive show of trade union strength and unity on November 30, this Government could not have believed its luck when, just a few weeks later, the leaders of unions like ATL and UNISON retreated and accepted the unacceptable terms of the ‘Heads of Agreement’ pensions offer.

Weakness has only invited further attacks. While giving even more handouts to the wealthy top 1%, Osborne announced in the Budget that pension ages will be rising even faster. A teacher in their 30s would not now have to work until 68 to get their full pension - but 70!

This fight isn’t only about pensions. The Coalition want to defeat education unions so that they can drive ahead with their plans to cut pay and jobs, use the threat of fast-track sackings to increase workload even more, and to turn yet more schools into Academies.

This government of millionaires is just doing what their backers have asked of them - to bailout big business after the financial mess they created at our expense. Making us pay more for pensions - while employers pay less - also helps the profiteers taking over our services. 

Faced with these attacks, union leaders can’t afford to hesitate. Unions need to be fighting just as hard for their members, and for the millions that rely on schools and services, as the ConDems are for the millionaires.

While others ran for cover, unions like the NUT, UCU and PCS stood firm and regrouped, preparing their members for further national action on March 28. But even the NUT leadership hesitated at the last - and opted for a strike only across the London Region.

Londoners have risen to the challenge and will show that teachers are ready to carry on the struggle. We know that we can’t afford to work on until 70 nor pay 50% more in contributions when many are already struggling with debts and the rising cost of living. In London, and nationally, we’ve no choice but to fight on.

March 28 must be the start of the next phase of the campaign, not the end. But isolated regional action can’t put the Government under pressure in the same way that united national strike action can.

It was the firm national action in June and November that forced Ministers to yield the concessions that we have won so far. Now London has shown the way, we must call on our unions to organise national action again.

Monday, 26 March 2012

We can hardly work until 60 - let alone 68!


Of the various emails of support received today, I thought I'd start with this one from Max Hyde - because the figure she quotes is worth repeating to any wavering members - if 41% can't work until 60 now, how many of us can possibly work to 68 or 70?

As a supply teacher I am proud to be able to join you on the 28th.

I also would like to send a message of support to you & your Division activists who have worked tirelessly to make this the strongest possible statement to the Coalition Government that their proposed changes to teachers’ pensions are unnecessary, unfair and unworkable.

41% of those who took retirement in 2010/2011 retired before the age of 60 – largely because of the demands of the job.

The proposals will do nothing to recruit & retain teachers – quite the opposite. The proposals will do nothing to secure the future of the teachers’ pension scheme & keep it affordable & sustainable – quite the opposite.

Well done to London Teachers for leading the next stage in the Union’s campaign - standing up for Fair Pensions for All and the future of the profession. I will be proud to march with you in solidarity & sisterhood.

This is a crucial fight, Max Hyde, Executive Member for Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Warwickshire & Worcestershire.

I am writing to offer you all my support and best wishes for Wednesday’s strike action. If any Lewisham members are still considering whether or not to take action, please remember that there are thousands of members in areas outside London who would willingly join you if our areas were involved.

I teach in Rye, East Sussex – we have been twinned with your borough for this action, and our members have always closed our school when called to take strike action. We were ready to strike on Wednesday if called to, and are all desperate to protect our pensions as far as possible. Strike action really does seem to be the only way to make our voice heard. We must continue to fight these unfair and unjustifiable changes to our pensions. Call for the Teachers’ Pension Scheme to be properly audited and valued, in my opinion that is our strongest argument.

Please get your colleagues to come out in support, and fight for all of us, we will join you when it’s our turn.

In solidarity, Acorn Clayton, Curriculum Leader MFL, Rye College

On behalf of members of Lewes Eastbourne and Wealden NUT I would like to pass on our support for teachers in Lewisham and across London striking this week to defend pensions.

Members across East Sussex have responded to the strikes on 30th June and 30th November in huge numbers and had anticipated striking alongside our colleagues in London on the 28th March.

We remain ready to carry on the struggle to turn back a government that is using a financial crisis push don't pay and conditions of teachers and other public sector workers.

We hope the success of your strike on Wednesday will be inspiration for all those fighting this government and a message that the battle is far from over.

Phil Clarke
Secretary Lewes Eastbourne and Wealden NUT

Ruskin UCU sends greetings of solidarity to Brothers and Sisters taking Industrial Action on 28th March.

Tracy Walsh, Ruskin UCU, TUC Tutor, Ruskin College, Oxford

Best of luck in your day of action...the ordinary workers of GB need to awake and rise up to the squalid and cynical politics of Osborne/Clegg and Cameron and their policies of ‘ALL FOR ONE....AND NONE FOR ALL!!

Belfast West, INTO Branch Secretary...Sean Kelly

INTO members in Newry Branch, INTO Northern Ireland send greetings and solidarity to our colleagues in NUT Londan on their strike on 28th March. We salute your stand against the pensions robbery. Hopefully, our Unions can work together to fight the erosion not only of teachers pensions, pay and conditiions of service, but those of all workers.

Sheila Mc Carron, Branch Secretary, Newry Branch INTO Northern Ireland

Sunday, 25 March 2012

March 28 teachers' strike - a message to parents

Teachers can’t work until they’re 68
… and nor can nurses, firefighters, council workers  …

On March 28, members of the National Union of Teachers right across London are again having to take strike action to protect our pensions from Government cuts.
We know that this may be awkward for parents and students but we hope you will understand why we are having to do this.

From next month, the Government will be cutting teachers’ pay. They want to make us pay MORE for our pensions - but they’ll be paying us LESS pension when we retire.

They also want to raise the age of retirement to 68 or even 70 ! How can anyone be expected to teach classes of thirty or more children at that age?

We know we’re not alone in facing cuts. Teachers will be marching down Whitehall with ex-Fords (Visteon) car workers who are also fighting for pensions justice. We hope our fight can help protect other workers from cuts too.

To find out more about the Visteon Pensioners Campaign:

To download this text as a parents' leaflet:

Saturday, 24 March 2012

BORIS: Blame your own Con-Dem cuts, not teachers and schools!

Speaking at the TUSC Election Campaign Launch last week
Boris Johnson attempted to catch the headlines in his Mayoral campaign today by blaming ‘poor schools’ for last summer’s London riots (

Instead of unjustly criticising teachers and schools, Johnson should take the blame himself for the Con-Dem Coalition’s total failure to provide jobs and hope for so many of London’s youth.

Johnson blurts out the truth when he says “there are too many people who feel there is no future for them in this city”. But is it any wonder when his Conservative Party – and the previous Labour Government – have bailed out the the bankers while cutting jobs, youth services, and the EMA?

Figures released by the TUC this month named three London boroughs in the ten Local Authorities where it’s hardest to find a job vacancy. In Hackney, there are 17 claimants for every vacancy. In Haringey, and my own borough Lewisham, there are 20! Is it any coincidence that these were some of the boroughs hit by riots last summer?

Trade unionists and socialists do not support rioting. Instead, we encourage young people and local communities to organise campaigns to demand the decent jobs and services that are so desperately needed. For example, I was proud to support the ‘Youth March for Jobs’ from Jarrow to London last year, where young people marched to demand investment in properly-paid jobs and training, not ‘Workfare’.

Teachers know that education can help young people flourish. But we don’t need lectures from politicians. We are working hard every day to support our youngsters.

It will take a lot more than the improvement in ‘literacy and numeracy’, that Johnson is calling for in today’s Guardian interview, to solve youth unemployment and disenchantment. Big business’ failure to invest in real jobs means the jobs just aren’t there to fill. Even if schools continue to improve exam results, without jobs, it will only result in an even more-qualified dole queue.

But Johnson’s policy to improve schooling will do nothing of the sort. His proposal to ‘intervene’ in education gives poorly disguised support to Michael Gove’s plans to force even more of our community schools into privatised Academies – just as happening in Haringey despite the opposition of local parents. This will create a free-market free-for-all in London which will make education worse, not better.

Johnson wants to cut tax for high-earners so they can get even richer. Regrettably, New Labour’s economic policy is little different. In contrast, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) believes that this wealth should be used to create jobs with a living wage for all and fully funded public services. That’s the kind of program that can really create hope for London’s youth, not Johnson’s cuts and privatisation.

That’s why I am proud to be one of the candidates on the TUSC London-wide member list for the London Assembly elections on 3 May. If TUSC wins over 5% of votes across London in this section, then, whoever wins as Mayor, they will have to face an elected TUSC Assembly member who can, at last, speak up for the millions of ordinary Londoners who have had enough of big business politicians like Boris.

Martin Powell-Davies, Science Teacher, TUSC Candidate for the London Assembly, and one of the six members of the NUT National Executive elected from the London Region (standing in a personal capacity).       March 24 2012

Friday, 23 March 2012

Lewisham schools on strike on March 28

Today's TES article on pensions ( ) tried to claim that there was "no appetite" for strike action on March 28. The journalist should come round the schools of Lewisham and talk to a few teachers first-hand. Then he'd find that, as I said in that TES article, "This is the beginning of the next phase of the campaign, not the end" !

Yes, there's a very active debate going on about how we should take the action forward after March 28. In school meetings, many teachers - sometimes quite vehemently - have made clear that they, like me, want NUT Conference to vote for a program of national action rather than isolated regional strikes. Yes, there's anger at the NASUWT for again standing aside - and a determination to persuade their members back into action alongside other unions,  just as we had to do after the first national strike last June. But, above all, there's real anger at the blatant injustice of this millionaire's Government's pensions robbery and their latest plans to raise pension ages to 70 and beyond - and a determination to show from the schools and streets of London next week that the battle for pensions justice is far from over.

But, above all, look at the proof of the support for action in the list below of schools in Lewisham where we already know that NUT members are taking strike action:

Schools where we understand all or certainly most NUT members will be striking include:



























Schools which we understand will be fully closed to pupils by the NUT action include:





















Updated lists will be posted on the Lewisham NUT homepage:

"United we stand divided we fall" - support messages for March 28 flood in

Messages of support from across the NUT - and the wider trade union movement - are flooding in to NUT Associations. Here's just some of those that I've received:

I am writing to you as President of the new Buckinghamshire Trades Council to offer you our full support for the strike action that you will be taking in defence of your pensions on March 28th. Your determination to continue with action sends out a significant message to the wider public that the public sector pensions dispute is not over. It will certainly help convince many members of my union Unison that all is not lost and that with determination and solidarity we can overcome the difficulties we face. I look forward to the day when all those unions and trade unionists that oppose this governments theft of our pension rights, take action together, as we did on the 30th November. United we stand divided we fall.
Yours in Solidarity, Steve Bell (Unison) President

I would like to express my support and gratitude to NUT members taking strike action over the pensions issue on Wednesday. Our members at Soar Valley College and the City of Leicester NUT in general feel very strongly that the fight for fair pensions must continue and we are only sorry that we are not able to take action ourselves -  although we trust that we'll be given the opportunity to do so after Easter.  Thank you for making the financial sacrifice to carry on the fight on behalf of the rest of the NUT. I hope you have a good day on Wednesday.
 Andy Haynes - Soar Valley School, Leicester

INTO members of Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey and Larne send greetings and solidarity to our colleagues in the NUT London region for their strike on the 28th March. We salute your stand against the pensions robbery and would have liked to join you in your fight. You are taking a stand on behalf of us all and we would hope to join you in any future action.  We are under continued attack with the robbery of our pensions, the movement towards regional pay and a real terms reduction in school funding.  You have our voices and our respect. 
Yours in solidarity  Seamus Hanna Northern Committee Member INTO

On behalf of the Executive of Coventry NUT, we would like to extend our solidarity to all NUT members across London, but in particular those members of Lewisham NUT whom we have twinned with, for your strike action on March 28th which is so very important.  We have asked our members to practically support you with donations of money for your Hardship Funds  as well as messages of support. Whilst we were very disappointed that we were not taking national strike action on March 28th, we recognise that the campaign is continuing and that in Coventry, we have a responsibility to ensure that that this campaign is won because we cannot work till we are 68.  We are hoping to send some members down on Wednesday and march with you with our banner.  We know you have a huge responsibility to bear and we acknowledge the stand you are making as the first Region to be called out. Thank you.
Jane Nellist, Joint Secretary, on behalf of the 1800 members of Coventry NUT

Martin, on behalf of teachers in District 1 Irish National Teachers Organisation Northern Ireland, I send you greetings and solidarity for your strike on March 28th. We pay tribute to your courage in taking strike action on ALL our behalf. If there was any justice we would all be striking on March 28th against this daylight robbery of our pensions...a raid being carried out by Osbourne and his cronies in Westminster and by our Northern Ireland Assembly here to pay for the bailout of banks and the greed of bond holders. We wish you all the best for your Easter Conference and hopefully in April we will all join you again on the picket lines to continue our campaign.
In solidarity, Mary Cahillane  (Central Executive Committee Representative District 1) INTO

Good Luck on Wednesday. Here’s hoping for a good turnout and thank you all for your efforts on our behalf.
Tom Hayes, Willingdon Community School (East Sussex)

Good to see teachers and lecturers carrying on the fight to defend pensions. Chancellor Gideon Osborne's  'granny tax' is a timely reminder of why public sector workers need to fight for a decent retirement! Good luck for March 28,
Julia Armstrong, Branch chair, South Yorkshire National Union of Journalists
"The officers of Ipswich NUT support the continuation of the campaign to  defend our pensions. Whilst we are disappointed that the strike on the 28th March will not be a national strike we give our full support to our London colleagues taking action on that day. We support the idea of 'twinning' with an association in London to support them with financial contributions from our local members and with messages of support. We call on our national executive to encourage members throughout the country to give their support to the London strikers in a similar way.  November 30th was an enormous step forward for the trade union movement and we  believe that it is with action like this that we can win. We look forward to the future escalation of action and hope that other teaching and public sector unions will join us."
Margaret Bulaitis, President Ipswich NUT
I am writing to you to give the full support of PCS members in the Department for Work and Pensions in Wales for the NUT members who will be taking strike action next week. We fully recognise how important it is for the NUT to have a good strike in London - to show the willingness and necessity to fight to all teachers nationwide.  We also fully support your initiative in ensuring that the NUT continues to be actively involved in strike action against pensions.
This week we have seen clear evidence that this government feels strengthened by any sign of weakness from trade union leaders. We have witnessed the raft of anti-working class measures they have taken in the budget and its support for the super-rich, as well as the disgraceful assault on the NHS.   However in PCS we can also see clearly the potential for even more unity across the trade union movement as anger grows in the face of these attacks, which impact on us all. We have confidence in trade union members across the board in wanting to fight back and defeat this government.  We fully support your action and we will continue to work hard to mobilise the working class anger and potential to fight back into a mass movement against this weak coalition government.
All the best, Katrine Williams, PCS DWP Wales Chair

Congratulations on keeping up the momentum of opposition to this pensions robbery. Have a good day on the 28th March. Let's hope that every pensioner in this country is now realising that the RPI /CPI switch really does affect them also!
Pete Sopowski - Southampton NUT

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Work until you die - or fight until we win!

This morning's London Metro headline will hopefully be further inspiration to NUT and UCU members across London to make sure that they are on strike next Wednesday in their tens of thousands.
The Metro article confirms what the NUT have warned all along - that Osborne, Gove and Cameron have no intention of halting the increases in pension ages at 68. However, when we have warned about them rising to 70, we were sadly underestimating the Tories' viciousness. Now, the Metro talks of pension ages rising to 80!

They really do want teachers to be carried out of the classroom in a box - or for teachers to have to hand over to the Treasury most of the pension that we have paid in for - when we are forced to retire into poverty by leaving long before we reach our full pension age.

We CAN'T work until 68 - and certainly not 70 or more. So we HAVE to carry on our pensions fight - and that's exactly what teachers and lecturers in London WILL be doing on March 28.

The reports are now coming in from across London of NUT groups confirming their support for action and schools announcing their closure as a result. We also have confirmed details of the demonstration on March 28 through the heart of London:
+ Assemble at 11am at Malet Street WC1E (Goodge Street tube)
+ Demo sets off at midday - down Shaftesbury Ave, Leicester Square ...
+ At Trafalgar Square we will meet up with ex-Fords pensioners also marching for Pensions Justice
+ March down Whitehall past Parliament
+ Rally outside Department of Education in Great Smith Street, Westminster.

So if you're a striking teacher or lecturer, a trade unionist also fighting for your future, or any worker facing their state pension being robbed from you, MARCH WITH US ON MARCH 28!

Here's just one of many messages of support that are coming in from across the country:

On behalf of the Executive of Coventry NUT, we would like to extend our solidarity to all NUT members across London, but in particular those members of Lewisham NUT whom we have twinned with, for your strike action on March 28th which is so very important. We have asked our members to practically support you with donations of money for your Hardship Funds as well as messages of support.

We are hoping to send some members down on Wednesday and march with you with our banner.
We know you have a huge responsibility to bear and we acknowledge the stand you are making as the first Region to be called out. Thank you.

On behalf of the 1800 members of Coventry NUT

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

London - we can't afford NOT to strike

Updated FAQs on the March 28 strike have been posted on the NUT website on:

Here's a key fact worth remembering:

Will I lose money when I go on strike?
A day’s pay will be deducted – 1/365 of your annual pay minus taxes etc for school teachers (some other members may have different deductions specified in their contracts). You can work out the deduction by dividing your monthly take home pay by 30 if you are full time. Then compare it to the amount you’d lose every month using the NUT pension loss calculator.

For example if your salary is £36,000 you’d lose around £68 by taking one day of strike action whereas by April 2014 your contributions will have gone up by £73 a month.

Taking action on 30 June and the threat of further action has delivered £1,000 a year for life in return for two days’ loss of pay for many members. Taking action does achieve results but we need to keep up the pressure.

... but for those in real difficulties, some London NUT Associations have set up hardship funds and donations are being promised by other Associations from outside London.  For example, Hull NUT rang me today to suggest a £500 donation could be on its way.

Monday, 19 March 2012

March 28 London strike starts to build

Myatt Garden School in Lewisham was one of the first London schools to send out a letter to parents today, confirming that their school will be closing on March 28 owing to NUT strike action - but they won't be the last!

The response from NUT reps today has been positive in Lewisham and elsewhere. Reports are already coming in of school groups confirming their support for strike action and making plans for pickets and attending the central London demonstration.

Andrew Baisley, Camden NUT Secretary, reported that "Initial indications from Camden look good. I attended a meeting at a Hampstead primary school this lunchtime. After some hard questions about why only London, they all agreed they are coming out. A rep from a one form VA primary reported solid support at their lunchtime meeting. Two secondaries have had meetings and both reps report solid support".

Details of the London demonstration assembly point have been confirmed as:
 Assemble at 11am in Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY  
(there will then be a march to Westminster - details of route still to be finalised).

Sunday, 18 March 2012

London Pensions Strike Materials to download

As Secretary of Lewisham NUT as well as NUT Executive member, I am uploading useful materials on the Lewisham NUT website home-page:

As the website reports, support is coming in from across England and Wales for the London strike. Lewisham NUT has been twinned with the City of Leicester NUT Association who will be sending in messages of support and collections.

Other individual messages of support are already coming in. Here's just one of them:
"I just wanted to send my support to all London NUT members who are taking strike action on 28th March and leading the fightback against these unfair and vicious cuts. The majority of the NUT members I have spoken to, here in Carmarthenshire (South Wales), were expecting to take action to defend our pensions. Unfortunately, we have not (yet) been given the choice to go on strike. Therefore, I pledge one days pay to the Lewisham NUT hardship fund".

Here are the links to some of the materials which can help us build the strike:

For the answers to queries about taking strike action, look on the Lewisham NUT pensions page:

Press Release - London Pensions Strike on March 28

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate distribution: March 18 2012

The National offices of the NUT teaching union and UCU lecturers union have confirmed that a joint strike of NUT teachers and UCU lecturers across the London Region has been called for Wednesday March 28 as part of our ongoing joint-union national campaign to defend public sector pensions.
Schools, colleges and universities will be hit by strike-action right across the thirty-two London boroughs with some workplaces holding local picket-lines before strikers and supporters from across the trade union and anti-cuts movement gather at a Central London demonstration 1.
This action follows the confirmation from Government Minsters that they will be imposing their unjustified plans to cut public sector pensions. These cuts mean that some teachers are being told that their retirement age will rise to 68. This is not an age to be standing at the front of a class. The attacks will mean all teachers face pay cuts from April 2012 as pension contributions are increased.
Teachers in London will be among the hardest-hit. Contributions will rise from 2012-14 by over 50%. An experienced Inner London teacher will see their annual salary fall by £1500 by April 2014.
As Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary, has said in a letter to all NUT members:
“Our case is simple and just: The Government still hasn’t carried out the valuation of the teachers’ pension scheme and has produced no evidence to back its claim that our scheme, which was reformed in 2007, is unaffordable.
Yet teachers are still being asked to work longer, pay more and get less: Any teacher under 34 faces having to work to 68 or even longer to get a full pension. All of us are being asked to pay 50% more and to get much less due to the change in indexation.
The London action is just the start: The NUT is planning to take action in other parts of England and Wales and is seeking to bring other unions into this work, and these next steps will be discussed at our conference over Easter”.
Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham NUT Secretary and a member of the NUT National Executive, said:
“This London-wide strike action will send a clear message to the Government, and the whole trade union movement, that the fight to stop this unjustified robbery of our pensions is far from over.  Teachers know that it’s just not possible to work on until we're 68. Instead, teachers will have to retire long before their full pension is due. The Government will steal much of what we’ve earned.”
“London teachers have been given the job of starting this next round of strike action. I am confident that my members we will seize this opportunity to show the strength of our opposition on March 28. Teachers outside London are sending their support and ‘twinning’ with London boroughs to pass on support and donations to hardship funds. For example, Lewisham NUT will be linked with Leicester.
1 - Details of the London demonstration are presently being confirmed with the police. Full information will be released as soon as the final route and timings are confirmed.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Send in donations to London NUT hardship funds

If you go to the frontpage of the Lewisham NUT website,, you can find a link to an appeal sheet to help support teachers in the greatest financial hardship taking strike action in London on March 28.

With March 28 being a regional strike, there may be greater calls on the fund than in the June and November national strikes as inevitably some teachers may question if they are being asked to take an extra 'hit' on their pay here in London.

I hope that we will ALL be taking strike action together next term too. However, the success - or otherwise - of the London strike may be a significant factor in determining the attitudes of delegates at NUT Conference when they are debating future plans. So the action in London on March 28 can have an important bearing on the whole campaign.

The knowledge that teachers from outside London are prepared to support them morally - and above all financially - will be very important in urging everyone here to join the strike. We haven't got long to make sure we have built that strong support for strike action - so please start sending in those cheques and messages of support straight away!

As hardship funds are organised by NUT Division, and we have little time to consider alternative arrangements, I think colleagues will need to send donations into Divisions, not London NUT centrally.

The Lewisham NUT appeal sheet could be adapted for different Divisions to use - particularly if they are 'twinning' to a particular London Division. However, if because of lack of time, anyone needs an account to send cheques to, 'Lewisham Teachers Association' is happy to accept them. I am sure we can consult with other Divisions about how to distribute funds if, when sent to us, they are marked as intended to support NUT members across London.

London Calling to the faraway towns ...

... war is declared! .... or at least, the next phase in the ongoing pensions action has been called - with NUT and UCU members going on strike across London on March 28. Now we need your urgent moral and financial support!

Call for national action next...
Many teachers outside London - who also voted by a big majority to support strike action on pensions - will be disappointed that they haven't also been given the chance to take action alongside us here in the capital on March 28. Unfortunately for them, a majority of the NUT Executive chose to start with regional action first. 

If you feel that national action was the better strategy - as I do - then do meet to send in motions saying that your school and Association is also ready to strike - and call on your NUT Conference delegates and NUT Executive members to support motions calling for national strike action next term. However, the best way of guaranteeing that Conference has the confidence to call that action is to help those of us in London make sure that our March 28 action is a big success!

... but start by supporting the London strike!

We have just over a week to build the strike across London. The main task will fall on the shoulders of London NUT Divsional Officers, supported by the National Union. However, there's lots that NUT members outside London can do to help. Support from outside London  - moral and financial - will be really valuable in building the strike. That could include having a lunchtime rally at your school on the day in solidarity with the London strike.

Messages of support that we can send in to schools next week will help raise confidence that the whole movement is behind us. Any messages sent to me at will be passed on to other London colleagues.

Donations to hardship funds will also be very welcome. Don't believe the propaganda about high-paid teachers! Some London teachers, particularly young staff saddled with student debt and paying high rents, are already really struggling with the high cost of living in the capital. For them, losing a day's pay by going on strike is a real sacrifice. Therefore, urgent promises of financial support will also be a real boost. 

We know that teachers nationally will also be putting money aside in preparation for going on strike themselves next term, but a few pounds from everyone now will make a real difference to building the London strike. If you're not a teacher, then your collections and trade union donations will also be much appreciated!

Unfortunately, there isn't a central account for payments, as hardship funds are organised through individual borough NUT Associations. I would be very happy to accept donations to 'Lewisham Teachers Association' and I am sure our local officers would be happy to then pass on some of that support to other Associations too.

Link  your school or NUT Association with a 'twin' in London
Organisation of that moral and financial support is being strengthened by linking NUT Associations outside London with twins in the capital. Hounslow is already linked with the Rhondda, Tower Hamlets with Wakefield, Leicester with Lewisham and so on. If you want to make the same links, again, get in touch. London NUT Executive members will make sure you have a twin so that you can send individual messages of support to school reps in that area and pay-in directly to their local hardship fund.

Let's make sure the London action is a huge success so that the Government and the whole trade union movement gets a clear message - the battle on pensions is far from over!

Watch out Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Gove - we're on the march again!

Friday, 16 March 2012

A letter to NUT members - strike on March 28!

I have sent this letter to Lewisham NUT members tonight:

Dear NUT member

I am writing to confirm that a joint strike of NUT teachers and UCU lecturers across London HAS been confirmed for March 28 as part of an ongoing joint-union national campaign to defend public sector pensions.

The announcement of the London strike has already hit the news. I've just seen an article on the Telegraph website and heard our strike announced on the BBC News Headlines. This is just what we intended our action to achieve - to make the Government realise that they have NOT won on pensions and that the battle to stop their pensions robbery is still very much on!

We CAN'T work until we're 68 - and we're not going to let this Government force people to do so - or alternatively be forced into retiring 'early' into poverty or dropping-out of the pensions scheme altogether.

We Londoners have been given the job of spearheading the campaign - and we have a responsibility to seize this opportunity and show our strength on March 28. There will be a central London march and rally - hopefully ending up outside the Department of Education so we can tell Mr. Gove that we're not putting up with pensions robbery nor all the rest of his attacks on our pay, conditions and education!

London NUT has been chosen because we are the fastest-growing and best-organised region of the NUT. We are also going to be the hardest-hit as the tiered contribution increases mean that teachers on London pay scales will have more stolen from our salaries than anyone else this April. We need every London NUT member to be on strike on March 28.

Our colleagues around the country are also expecting to be called out on strike next term - either nationally or regionally depending on what NUT Conference decides over Easter. I will certainly argue that the next step should be joint national action but, for now, we in London have this chance to show everyone the way ahead on March 28. A solid strike can give confidence to every NUT member - and to all those members of other teaching and non-teaching unions who are still holding back - to join us in action again next term.

Teachers outside London are wishing us every success. I've already had messages of support in from Liverpool, Calderdale, Buckinghamshire, Wakefield, Oxford and more. We plan to 'twin' London Associations with other parts of the country so that they can link with us up to and on the day - including sending in donations to support hardship funds to support London teachers taking action on March 28.

Lewisham has already gratefully accepted an offer of 'twinning' from City of Leicester - and there may be more 'twins' or even ‘triplets’ to add too!

  • I will send out more news and information - e.g on the confirmed demonstration plans - as I get it.
  • The National Union will be sending out the official legal notifications to schools next week.
  • We are happy to come into school meetings where we can - and I already have some meetings booked for next week.
  • Please also attend our AGM on Monday March 26 at 5pm where we can make final plans and answer remaining queries about activities, picket lines etc on the day....
As ever, keep in touch

All eyes are on us now in London - let's show them that we stand strong together!

Martin Powell-Davies, Secretary, Lewisham NUT