Tuesday 18 March 2014

Teachers looking for a clear lead

I left school this afternoon to take the train to Bedfordshire to seek the support of Central Beds NUT for my stand in the election for NUT General Secretary.

At the end of a meeting where both I and a speaker in favour of Christine Blower had a chance to make our case, the meeting voted unanimously for my nomination. With news of a nomination also being agreed for me by Blackpool NUT, that puts me decisively over the minimum nomination  requirement to make sure there is a contested GS election in June.

Central Beds NUT is not an Association that would identify itself with any 'faction' in the Union. Indeed, when it was reported that I didn't have the backing of the 'left' or 'right' within the Executive, there was an angry rejection of what seemed to them to be 'union politics'. They just wanted their Union to give a clear lead! 

That 'union politics' also means that I am being challenged for my seat on the NUT Executive - with voting papers going out this week.

My nomination tonight only followed a sober and thoughtful discussion with searching questions about what I would do as General Secretary to defend teachers and the strategy needed to defeat Gove. There was no doubt about the overwhelming anger at the impossible conditions facing teachers, as well as the frustration at what was seen as a lack of conviction shown by the Union in standing up to these attacks.

This was a honest debate and I hope my honest replies helped win the unanimous backing of the meeting. Yes, we face a serious situation. Yes, we have already stepped back too often and allowed pay, pensions and conditions to deteriorate. But we still have the power to reverse these attacks - as long as we stop hesitating and give teachers confidence that we are serious about defeating Gove.

To start with, March 26 needs to be built as strongly as we can. The key role in building that strike now falls to school reps as they organise and rally their colleagues. There will be some setbacks but there will also be real successes. Already reports are coming in of schools closing, with more to come over the days up to the strike.

This time, March 26 must not be another isolated strike. It has to be the start of an ongoing calendar of action.

Whatever the NUT election results, whoever leads the Union has a huge responsibility to speak up for teachers and build support for the ongoing action needed. I hope that, with teachers' support in these elections, I can help give that lead.

No comments: