NUT CONSULTATION OPENS FEB 24 - SEEKING SUPPORT FOR ONGOING ACTION STARTING WITH NATIONAL STRIKE ON WED. MARCH 28
This afternoon, both the NUT and PCS National Executives unanimously agreed to proceed with consultative surveys to confirm support - and to mobilise members - for an ongoing campaign of action to defend public sector pensions. If the results show support, both unions are proposing that March 28 would be the next day of co-ordinated national strike action.
Union leaderships aren’t going into these consultations with any intention of winding down the pensions campaign. The opposite is the case. We hope that these votes will give a new momentum to the struggle after a period where we have had to regroup a ‘coalition of the willing’ after some unions have inexcusably retreated from the battle.
The NUT knows that teachers cannot afford to retreat and see their pension contributions increased by 50% to get a smaller pension when they retire. Above all, they cannot accept that teachers could be expected to work on until they are 68 or more. With the Government threatening even greater workload, stress and classroom observations, it will be hard enough to work until 60, let alone 68.
By voting for action, NUT members will be sending a clear message to the Government that the fight for pensions is far from over. At the same time, we’ll also be making clear that we are ready to fight on all those other attacks on pay, conditions and education that this millionaires’ Government wants to throw at us.
As long as the campaign is taken to every school, we can go into this consultation with confidence. The pensions struggle that has been fought over months means that every teacher is clear that the Government wants us to ‘pay more’ to ‘get less’ and ‘retire older’. We will be calling on every NUT member to vote for continued action to prevent this blatant pensions robbery.
Our action has already won some minor improvements but the ‘Heads of Agreement’ is far from good enough to settle this dispute. The argument that we will be taking to members is that with more action, we can, and must, win far more. Regrettably, it seems unlikely that the NASUWT is prepared to join with us in action. But, as on June 30th, we can still have a significant impact with the NUT, PCS and hopefully other unions like the EiS, NIPSA and UCU joining us too. [UPDATE: Further announcements today suggest that sections of UNITE and the FBU may also be moving towards action as well]. Let's hope that the consultation puts pressure on the NASUWT to join in too.
In the best organised schools and areas there may be some frustration as to why this consultation is necessary. It’s true that we don’t need another legal ballot to call further action – and this consultation is certainly not a formal reballot. However, it’s inevitable that the retreats by the ATL, UNISON and other unions have caused confusion and doubts amongst some teachers. This consultation is designed to answer those doubts and to win a clear endorsement for ongoing action.
A positive result will give confidence to every school to join in our further action – starting with a joint one-day strike on March 28th. Those reps and members who already understand that this action is necessary have got a vital role to play in going out to other schools to spread that message.
Consultation papers will be sent out to arrive at homes from February 24th. They are to be returned by March 14th in time for a further NUT National Executive meeting on that day to consider the results – and hopefully to sanction the next day of joint strike action on March 28th. (The PCS Executive meets to make its decision on March 19th)
The two questions for NUT members will be:
1) Do you endorse the decision of the National Executive to continue the pensions campaign and to refuse to sign up to the Government’s proposals?
2) Would you support further strike action beginning with a national one day strike on 28th March?
To mobilise the biggest ‘YES’ vote, the National Union will be sending out mailings and emails, making calls to members and putting adverts in the press. But it will be local activity that will be vital. School-based meetings will be essential to go through the arguments – and members can then vote directly by text or via internet – not just by posting back their voting papers. Every NUT Local Division has been asked to organise reps’ briefings in the week beginning Feb 27th – and over 70 events have already been confirmed.
The Government are planning to announce on February 20th that all ‘negotiations’ are over and that their plans are firmly in place. These consultations will allow teachers and civil servants to give a clear response to Minsters – you’re wrong, our struggle continues.
Now let’s go out and win those votes!