Thursday 11 July 2013

NUT Executive Report - get ready for our ongoing calendar of action

UPDATE: the calendar of ongoing action has now been released:
  • a second phase of rolling national strike action in the week beginning 30 September;
  • a third phase of rolling national strike action in the week beginning 14 October; and
  • a one-day national strike before the end of the Autumn term.
In the week commencing 30 September, members will take part in strike action in the Eastern, East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside regions and in parts of Wales.

In the week commencing 14 October, members will take part in strike action in the North East, London, South East, South West regions and in the rest of Wales.


Today’s NUT National Executive Meeting was the first since the June 27th action in the North-West restarted our calendar of strike action to defend pay, conditions and education.

Reports that have been compiled since the day of the North-West strike confirmed its breadth and strength. Even according to Local Authority figures, 90% of maintained schools were totally or partly closed – although even this high figure is likely to be an underestimate of the strike’s actual impact.

That success has helped ensure that the next stage of the calendar of NUT and NASUWT strike action has now been agreed. To respect the national unions’ own decisions on publicity, I am not going to announce the exact dates here – but a national announcement about that calendar will be made tomorrow (Friday). Plans are being made for joint rallies and demonstrations on those strike days.  

Dates have already been announced for joint Rallies for Education building up to that strike action in London and Nottingham on Saturday September 14th and in Cambridge and Exeter on Saturday September 21st (which, regrettably, will clash with the next Steering Committee of LANAC in Leeds taking place that afternoon).

It’s certainly good news that those strike timings are about to be confirmed. NUT and NASUWT members will now be able to leave for their summer break knowing what they are preparing for when they return in September. There will then be urgent work to be done in building the Rallies for Education and, above all, the next rounds of regional – and then national – action.

It’s clear from the angry and determined mood at the General Meetings that I have attended recently, that members want their unions to show a real sense of urgency and determination in building the campaign.  It was also reported to the Executive that meetings between the unions and both those Michaels - Gove and Wilshaw - have shown no sign that they are willing to shift their positions. We have to build a campaign of action that is strong enough to make them think again.

Teachers will be pleased to hear that discussions are also taking place about further strike action to follow in 2014. It was reported that the NUT and NASUWT negotiating teams will be meeting before the end of term to discuss these plans. It was also agreed that a Special Executive meeting on September 6th will receive an update on those plans, along with plans to co-ordinate with any other TUC affiliates that might be moving towards strike action over the months ahead. 

NUT and NASUWT members have every reason to build the strongest possible action to defend our pay, conditions and education. However, we are not the only unions looking to oppose attacks on our livelihoods and our services. PCS civil servants have long been involved in an ongoing campaign of action. CWU members face the threat of privatisation of the Royal Mail. FBU firefighters are about to ballot over the threat to their pensions. Instead of striking separately, wouldn’t it be better for unions to strike together and have the biggest possible impact?

That’s why I pointed out to the National Executive that, as well as the major demonstration of the Tory Party Conference on September 29th, the National Shop Stewards Network are organising a Lobby of the TUC Congress in Bournemouth on September 8th to which the NUT has been invited to send a speaker. In response, Christine Blower confirmed that Frances O’Grady, the TUC General Secretary, was trying to bring together unions with live disputes to discuss co-ordination of action. The NSSN Lobby is being called to apply some pressure to make sure that co-ordination takes place.

Questions were also asked about plans to build localised sustained strike action in authorities – like Brighton and Lewisham – where it appears that unacceptable pay policies are being imposed on teachers. 

In short, teachers need to take a well-earned summer break – and return refreshed (and perhaps with a little money saved to help cover strike pay!) ready for a determined campaign of strike action next term. It’s a campaign that must continue and escalate into 2014 – and go on until we defeat these disastrous attacks.  

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