Thursday 17 October 2013

OCTOBER 17 - Determined, Angry and Striking Back Against Gove's Attacks

Right across London, the South of England and in the North-East, tens of thousands of striking teachers took to the streets today to show their determination to stand up for education and to strike back against Gove's attacks on pay, pensions and conditions.

The size of the turnout answered anyone who might have thought that the mood of teachers was weakening. On the contrary, the atmosphere at the demonstrations showed that the mood is hardening.  

2000 marched in Brighton and Durham, 3000 in Bristol, anything up to 15000 in London, where the march thronged down Whitehall and past the Department of Education. There were also other vibrant local rallies in towns like Plymouth and Canterbury too. The age of many of the marchers was also significant - many young teachers were to the fore, determined to march for their futures, and for the future of education too.

Teachers have had enough of being so denigrated, bullied and overworked that they end up having to leave the job they chose to enter. They have had enough of ideological attacks from a Secretary of State who wants to cut the costs of our pay and pensions to help his privatising friends - and, as all of today's chants made clear, they want Gove to go!

Today's determined mood and excellent turnout, building on the earlier regional strikes on June 27 and October 1, will help keep up the pressure on both the NASUWT and NUT Executives to carry out what we have promised - and call a one-day national strike before Christmas. Any delay would be a huge mistake - and a huge letdown after the buoyant mood of today's strike.

As I wrote in a campaign leaflet that was handed out to teachers at all today's rallies: "Further hesitation would invite further attacks. Gove needs to know that we aren’t stepping back. The strong support for the regional strike action shows that teachers are determined to defend their pay, pensions, conditions - and children’s education. Teachers would prefer to be teaching, not striking. However, our campaign is part of a wider struggle to defend genuinely free, comprehensive education. We have a responsibility to teachers, and to the children we teach, to make sure that Gove retreats". 

Gove CAN be beaten back - as long as we hold our nerve and step up our action. That's why I am campaigning for the following strategy:
  • Work to get every school out on a united one-day national strike in November
  • Call on other unions - like firefighters, postal workers, civil servants - to strike alongside us
  • Build united NUT/NASUWT school committees to keep up the pressure for joint action
  • Sharpen-up our communications - make sure that every colleague, every parent, understands why teachers are taking action to defend education
  • Campaign in our communities to broaden the support for our fight against’s Gove’s attacks
  • Collect for hardship funds so that no colleague feels unable to join our strike action 
  • Continue our action next term; if Gove won't step back, then we should step up to a two-day strike
For a video of today's London march and rally, see my youtube channel via:

... and there's even a picture of me on the Channel 4 news website ! :

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