With the attacks on pay and pensions already largely in place, and attacks on conditions soon to be added, the NUT urgently needs to agree a workable strategy to put to beleaguered teachers.
With no news of any 'significant progress' in our dispute with Gove, (and that's no real surprise), an emergency NUT Executive meeting has been called on January 16 to decide what strategy the NUT should now adopt for action. But what should that strategy be?
The strategy has to be one that is seen by members as having a prospect of successfully forcing back Gove's attacks. We should also be pursuing co-ordination of action with other trade unions in dispute - which needs to be addressed seriously by discussion of common action dates
These are the proposals that I have been discussing with NUT reps in Lewisham and that I hope we can consider at Thursday's NEC:
a) Naming a date for a one-day national strike before Feb 13 - as was promised. However, the validity of anything that looks like just another protest strike will clearly be questioned by teachers. This has to be seen as part of an ongoing/escalating campaign.
b) So this strike isn't seen as a one-off, then there should be a commitment to a further strike (even if the exact date might be left to be subject to co-ordination with other unions) in March (before Easter, Annual Conference and the exam-season).
c) To emphasise that this is an escalation, then we should consider the March strike being a two-day strike. The preparation for this should include collections for hardship funds for the hardest-hit colleagues.
d) Alongside national strike action, which best hits the headlines, what about using the first strike day's rallies to launch a national non-strike action strategy that (a) again demonstrates a clear escalation of action and (b) is also seen as action that is directly relieving the intolerable everyday pressures on colleagues. All workload actions can have their strengths and weaknesses but, rather than continuing to leave action to individual school choice of the various instructions, can we propose - and consult with reps - on action, based on the current ballot / instructions, that can involve the majority of schools in a focused national campaign?
e) This would need to be combined with a sharper publicity campaign exposing Gove's agenda and appealing for public support. We need sharp national materials that teachers could use to leaflet on school gates and every Association could use for a public meeting / street stalls.
f) What about then building for a national Saturday demonstration to defend education in the summer term - followed by further strike action after the exam period?
Tell your NEC members what you think!