Wednesday 20 November 2013


THE MEMBERS ELECTED TO THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE FOR 2014-2016 will face a sterner test than any previous national leadership has faced.
  • Can we successfully defend teachers against the attacks on pay, pensions and conditions and on teacher trade union organisation?
  • Can we oppose attempts to go back to a Victorian age of payment-by-results and just an ‘elementary’ curriculum for working-class children?
  • Will teaching become an even more unbearable job where divided and bullied colleagues are used up, burnt out and then just replaced?
The answer to those questions is, I fear, in the balance. We face a Government determined to drive through cuts and privatisation. The next Government, whoever wins, may be little different. Yet their policies do not have public support, particularly if we expose their real agenda. I am confident that firm action can push back these attacks – but time is running short to organise it.

Since I have been on the Executive, I have helped build national action, as took place in 2011. However, I have also seen the anger from London teachers at being called out on an isolated regional strike in 2012 that was not then followed by further action. We have also all taken part in the determined regional action of 2013 – only to see Gove emboldened by the NASUWT and NUT drawing back from the national strike action that was promised for the end of November.

Members were told that we had been promised talks – but Gove was always clear that any ‘talks’ would only be about ‘implementation’ of his policies. His provocative response was only to be expected from a hardened Tory politician who saw his trade union enemies hesitating once again. Now that the talk of ‘genuine dialogue’ has been exposed as a sham, we must reinstate our action.

If we keep hesitating, then we will only give Gove confidence to attack us even more. Yet, he should be the one on the back-foot. His policies on free-schools and pupil places are increasingly exposed. Our regional strikes were solidly-supported. We should be following up that action with a firm calendar of escalating action, which certainly needs to include considering a two-day strike.

Regrettably, we have no firm date for action after Xmas and certainly no agreed plan for further national strike action after that. We need to hold joint meetings of NUT and NASUWT members across our region to build support for national action. We also need to elect a National Executive that will be as determined in fighting for that action as Gove is determined to attack education.

Martin Powell-Davies, current member of the NUT National Executive and candidate for NUT VP

  • Secretary of Lewisham NUT since 1993. In that time, Lewisham Association has been built from under 900 to over 2000 members, becoming a strong, well-organised, campaigning Local NUT Association. Martin has led campaigns, rallies and demonstrations from cuts to SEN and teachers’ jobs to opposing racist attacks and academies. He has supported hundreds of individual teachers and NUT school reps.
  • Member of the NUT National Executive since 2010. Martin was successfully elected because of the support for his record in the Union locally and nationally and his support for collective action to oppose attacks on teachers and education. While on the Executive, Martin has consistently argued that the Union has a responsibility to give a lead and call national strike action. His stand for National Vice-President has been well-supported and the result of that election will be known after November 20th. If Martin is unsuccessful in that election, he will rightly be standing to retain his seat on the NUT Executive.

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