Yesterday's Budget Day march in Central London was another enthusiastic show of strength from tens of thousands of striking teachers, civil servants, junior doctors and more - but, after these latest strikes, what next?
The Government is trying to act ‘tough’, hoping they can sit things out until our momentum is lost. But we can show them that they have made yet another misjudgement! Strike action has been solidly supported so far. The Tories are under pressure. We can force them to meet our demands, but only if we now escalate our action. We need to show that we have a serious plan for winning this dispute, whilst also recognising the pressures on members of ongoing action.
The NEU National Executive meets on March 25th to confirm what program for escalation will be put to the NEU Annual Conference at the start of April. The proposal below has been drafted by Socialist Party members within the NEU to provide a concrete suggestion for discussion.
We make no claim to have come up with a definitive plan – far from it – we would welcome any feedback, so that, hopefully alongside others on the NEU Executive, a plan for escalation can be agreed.
A plan for escalation
1. Announce at NEU Annual Conference that the NEU is giving notice for further strike action:
• For TWO DAYS at the start of the summer term (e.g. in the week beginning Mon. 24 April)
• For THREE FURTHER DAYS in May, (e.g. in the week beginning Mon. 15 May)
2. Prepare for further extended action later in the summer term, which, by setting an appropriate timetable for a reballot, could also include NEU support staff members.
A plan to address genuine hardship
3. Every NEU District should assess claims that have been made on its local strike fund so far and then agree what more needs to be added in order to support those members who might face genuine hardship through our next strike days – and make sure members know how to apply.
4. In order to boost strike funds, particularly if there are NEU Districts who have fewer reserves, an appeal should be put out to our supporters and the wider trade union movement for donations. The NEC should discuss if this could be administered through Regional Councils.
A plan to maximise pressure on the Government through co-ordinated action
5. We should build a united front that acts to ramp up the pressure on Ministers to ‘pay up’ to fund the pay and conditions demands across all of the different disputes, alongside our demand that they ‘pay up’ for education. Co-ordination of our action with other unions who also need to force more funding from the Government – such as those also taking strike action alongside the NEU on 15 March – gives more impact to our action than our striking separately.
6. Therefore, the NEU National Executive should also write to the National Executives of all those unions who have a live strike mandate, proposing that a joint meeting of the NECs is urgently convened. That meeting should agree a strategy for co-ordinated action, including naming at least a first date when as many unions as possible take strike action together, with plans to build a maximum turnout at jointly organised rallies and demonstrations.