The NUT has issued two urgent circulars outlining how union members can help support the vital campaign to oppose the Government’s plans to cut EMA support (from £574million to perhaps as little as £75million) and to increase Tuition Fees to £9,000.
These attacks on the educational futures of our school students, particularly those from the poorest families, have angered youth, parents and school staff alike. They are, of course, also an attack on teachers’ jobs if school students decide that they cannot afford to remain in school post-16. The grass-roots campaign against these cuts has been an inspiration to older trade unionists. Now we have to do all we can to back these protests over the next few days.
Schools at this time of year are usually just looking forward wearily to the Christmas break – and the Con-Dems will be hoping that the wintry weather could also help dampen the mood to protest. We need to prove them wrong – but that means acting now to publicise the NUT support for these events.
In summary, the circulars confirm that (as well as other events that will be organised by students):
· There will be a period of intense campaigning activity over the coming week in the run up to the tuition fees vote, including protests at universities across the country on 8 December 2010 (the day prior to the vote in Parliament); and a mass lobby of MPs on 9 December 2010 itself, followed by a rally in Westminster and candle-lit vigil.
· There will be a joint day of action to ‘Save EMA’ on Monday, 13 December 2010. The focus of this day will be on localised college/school activity at lunchtime. A joint website has been set up at http://emacampaign.org.uk/ . It includes a petition which we should encourage members to sign.
As with previous action around tuition fees, the NUT is not calling for pupils to walk out and members should be advised that they should not encourage pupils to leave their classes, nor publically call for others to do so. However, it is hoped that retired members and part-time members not working on that day will be able to attend these activities. It is also hoped that some members may be able to reach agreement with head teachers on the release from schools and sixth form colleges of teachers wishing to attend the protests, where lessons can be covered.
Please act now to help build the campaign in your area. For example:
· Contact reps in schools with sixth forms and sixth form colleges to tell them about these events
· Contact other trade unions and see what joint activities can be organised locally
Martin Powell-Davies, NUT Executive Member for Inner London