Thursday, 13 March 2014

NUT Executive confirms: All out to build strike on March 26

This afternoon's Special Meeting of the NUT Executive confirmed that the strike on March 26 is most definitely ON! 

Now every Association and every School Rep must go all out to get the biggest possible turnout for the national strike.

The NASUWT and, regrettably, now UCAC in Wales too, may have pulled back from action. However, nothing of any real significance has yet been gained from the 'talks about policy implementation'. If it is only the NUT that is prepared to stand firm for now, then so be it. 

We have a responsibility to take the action needed to force politicians to change course. We must reverse the damage that has been done to teachers' pay, pensions and working conditions. In doing so, we will be defending education too.

Other unions may justify their inaction by claiming that Michael Gove has agreed to ‘serious negotiations’. Regrettably, the only thing that Gove is really serious about is attacking teachers and education.

Michael Gove represents a Government that is determined to cut costs, privatise services and encourage a precarious weakly-unionised workforce that will dutifully do the bidding of hard-nosed managers until they can take no more and resign. He isn’t interested in the fact that such a regime also damages education. 

The Secretary of State has always said that he is prepared to talk to teaching unions. However, he has also always made clear that any talks could only be about 'implementation' of his policies to cut our pay and pensions and to deregulate our working conditions. 

So, yes, talks with civil servants are taking place - but within the parameters set by Michael Gove. So, while the NUT is seeking to make the most from those talks, that limited agenda just isn't good enough!

Negotiations within Gove's 'implementation' parameters are unlikely to yield more than minor concessions - and, even then, it will be the threat of ongoing strike action that will be largely responsible for any gains that are made. 

'Precious little conceded so far'
If the reports from those talks, being posted on the NUT website, are anything to go by, then there is, as yet, precious little conceded so far. (See the letter from the DfE in full on: )

Teaching unions need to recognise that we will only win serious gains when we show that we are prepared to take serious action. That's why I am glad that, whatever doubts may have been harboured in some quarters, the NUT Executive rightly agreed unanimously today that our action goes ahead.

All of the indications are that the March 26 national strike will be well-supported, just as the regional strikes were last year. I hope that the strike will also generate momentum for further action to be called next term, so that March 26 is not left as just another isolated ‘protest strike’.

There is no room for hesitation over the next fortnight. Let's go all out to build the strongest possible national action on March 26.


J. Denyer said...

Can you explain why a Wednesday in the last week of the financial year was chosen for the strike?

At a time when parents are penalised for taking their children out of school during term-time, perhaps a Monday or Friday would have allowed us to make use of a long weekend instead of an isolated day.

Also, the last week of March is important for many businesses as the last week in the financial calendar. Many parents will have to take unplanned leave which will put added pressure on businesses at this busy time.

So, instead of putting pressure on the government, your strike is alienating parents and businesses. That's no way to generate public support is it?

Regardless of the decision TO strike, it seems to me that the decision of WHEN to strike has been poorly considered.

As a parent, I welcome your thoughts.

Martin said...

Unfortunately, action taken on a Monday or Friday is treated as a 3-day strike (including weekends) for pay deductions and so our action is always taken in midweek.

We appreciate that our action will inconvenience parents. However, it is regrettably only by taking this kind of action that we can pressurise this Government to change course - for the benefit of children and the future of education.