Friday 17 January 2014

News from the NUT Executive

Teachers are facing further attacks from politicians – and after the comments by Tristram Hunt on both ‘teacher licensing’ and ‘classroom discipline’ this week, sadly not just from Government politicians – making it even clearer that a strategy of ‘waiting for Labour’ is no solution to the problems facing teachers and education.

Teachers are facing yet more attacks on our conditions, when our existing intolerable workload is already driving many teachers out of the profession – a rate of ‘wastage’ that even Michael Wilshaw has had to admit is a ‘national scandal’ this week.

Michael Wilshaw’s answer to the crisis facing education – that teachers should ‘stop moaning’ is no solution. Yes, we should complain but complaining will not change matters – only a serious campaign of action will do so.

Teachers are waiting to hear what plans their unions have in place for such a serious campaign. In particular, NUT members are waiting for news from the emergency meeting of the NUT National Executive that met yesterday. That meeting was called in the light of the commitment, made following the postponement of the strike action in November - a postponement that I opposed - that, instead, “in the event that insufficient progress is made in talks with the Secretary of State, a joint day of national strike action be called and taken no later than 13 February 2014”.

Given that Michael Gove has so far refused to agree to meet separately with the NUT, NASUWT and UCAC to try and resolve our disputes, then clearly no such progress has been made. However, Executive members have been asked to maintain confidentiality about the decisions made at yesterday’s meeting and so I am unable to report on them. All I can say factually is that discussions will be continuing at the next National Executive meeting on January 30th and that, clearly, if action is to be taken before February 13th, then there is little time left to make such a strike announcement. 

However, it’s no secret, as I had already made clear on this blog, the position that I would argue for: ( – naming a date for a one-day national strike before February 13 as was promised, seeking to co-ordinate with other trade unions in dispute - like the RMT*, FBU, PCS and Higher Education unions as well as the NASUWT, and, critically, making clear to both teachers and the Secretary of State that our next strike is not just a one-off protest action but part of an ongoing campaign with further industrial action and campaigning activities to follow in the spring and summer terms. 

Last night's Hands Off London Transport meeting

I believe that there is an urgent need to implement an action strategy along these lines. Teachers will need to look out for further official communications from their unions about what has been agreed.

* The RMT in London have called two 48-hour strikes starting on the 4 and 11 February to oppose plans to close all London Underground ticket offices and cut 950 staff. The TSSA are also balloting over a timetable that should allow them to take action at the same time. These unions are correctly adopting a strategy of both industrial and campaigning activities – including a public meeting that I attended in London last night (and why this blogpost had to be delayed until this morning).

As I have said in a feature article explaining the dispute in this week’s Socialist paper ( "Londoners need to stand shoulder to shoulder with the RMT. These cuts are an attack on a vital transport service for all who live and work in London and an attack on an important section of our trade union movement. Let's join together with a coordinated campaign of strike action to defeat cuts and defend jobs, conditions and services"

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