For too long, Cameron, Osborne and the rest of this Government have been allowed to get away with their attacks. This term, teachers need to be ready to strike back!
As I have consistently argued on the Executive ever since Gove announced his performance-pay attacks back in December, the intolerable pressures in most schools mean that teachers will overwhelmingly support a clear call from their unions to take action.
The solid strike across the North-West on June 27 has confirmed that to be the case. Now NUT and NASUWT members in the rest of England and Wales have their chance to build on that success in the two regional strike days in October. We must then aim for a complete shutdown of schools - and more besides if we can persuade other unions to join with us - when we take national strike action in November.
We must also make clear to Gove, and to teachers, that, this time, we’re not just going to make a protest and then step back. If Gove refuses to retreat, especially if he carries out his threat to remove the 1265 hours / 195 days limits as well, then we have to announce a further calendar of action for 2014, perhaps stepping up to a two-day national strike.
Urgent - build for action from the start of term
Teachers’ energies are inevitably taken up with new classes and new timetables at the start of term. So every Local NUT Association, and every school rep, needs to make sure teachers are ready for our strike days too. That means building for regional rallies and local reps’ briefings and, above all, encouraging members to meet in schools to plan for strike action.
We need to alert members to try and put aside funds to cover the loss of two days’ pay in October and November. Let’s also collect for hardship funds to help out colleagues who may find that more of a struggle. However, as long as teachers are assured that their unions are engaged in a serious battle, and as long as we’ve got the message out to every school about the threats to pay, pensions, conditions and education, then the action will be well supported.
Stand firm to oppose unacceptable pay policies
The harsh reality of Gove’s performance-pay regime may quickly be brought home to teachers when dates start being set for appraisal review meetings. Some colleagues will again be under pressure to accept objectives linked to unachievable targets or Ofsted observation grades. Under some pay policies, ‘failure’ could mean no pay progression in 2014.
We need to encourage staff to collectively refuse both unacceptable targets and unacceptable pay policies. If we end up trying to defend teachers just through individual pay appeals, we’ll collapse under an even greater mountain of casework. That’s why some Associations, including my own in Lewisham, are preparing for sustained local action over new pay policies, alongside the calendar of national action.
A divisive regime that pressurises more teachers to quit, and leaves those left behind feeling even more under stress, can only damage education. That’s why we have a responsibility to the children we teach to act together to stop Gove’s attacks. With a bold plan of action, reaching out to parents too, we can defeat this divided Government.
KEY DATES FOR THIS MONTH :FROM THE START OF TERM:
* CAMPAIGN mailings and emails going out to members from the National Union;
* Follow-up with calls to reps, school meetings and Local Association briefings;
* Make sure reps are also supported in opposing any unacceptable pay policies.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 8:
* National Shop Stewards Network LOBBY OF THE TUC in Bournemouth to call for united strike action.
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 14:
* NUT / NASUWT RALLIES FOR EDUCATION, 11 am in London and Nottingham.
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 21:
* NUT / NASUWT RALLIES FOR EDUCATION, 11 am in Cambridge and Exeter;
* LANAC National Steering Committee meeting in Leeds.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 29:
* NHS Demonstration at TORY PARTY CONFERENCE in Manchester.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 30:
* Closing date for receipt of NOMINATIONS for National Officers at NUT HQ.
… then in OCTOBER:
STRIKE ACTION in Eastern, East Mids, West Mids, Yorks and Humberside regions and in parts of Wales, then
STRIKE ACTION in the North East, London, South East, South West and the rest of Wales.