Rank and file teachers are outraged that their executive voted against a walkout, writes Sadie Robinson
The leadership of the NUT teaching union last week narrowly voted against holding a one-day strike on 13 March.
Socialist Workers Party supporters and others on the union’s national executive committee (NEC) argued for the strike at a meeting on Thursday of last week.
Yet the NEC voted by 22 to 20 against it. The many teachers who want to fight the Tories’ attacks on their pay, pensions and conditions are furious.
Richard Akbar teaches in Haringey, north London. He told Socialist Worker, “The decision is shocking. If we’re not going to strike over pensions or pay then what’s the point of the NUT?”
Steve Tromans, who also teaches in Haringey, called the decision “ridiculous”.
Matt Savory, a teacher in west London, said, “Last week Ofsted strayed beyond its directive by recommending that ‘failing’ schools become academies. This week my union strayed beyond its directive by voting not to call me out on strike.”
Two angry meetings of NUT reps took place on Saturday, two days after the NUT vote.
In Leeds around 30 union reps met. Sally Kincaid, divisional secretary of Wakefield & District NUT, told Socialist Worker, “Person after person spoke from the floor condemning the NUT decision.
“One young teacher told NUT NEC member Ian Murch to trust reps to do their job. If the union names the day reps can build the action—but we can’t do that without a date this term.”
There was a near-unanimous vote demanding the NEC overturns its decision and name a strike date this term. Murch was the only person there voting against.
Meanwhile 25 reps met in Oxford. They demanded to know why the union hadn’t called strikes this term. An online survey of Oxfordshire NUT has so far found that 70 percent of those responding are prepared to strike over pay.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said that the union was discussing possible coordinated action with the NASUWT union.
Yet workers have already waited over a year for such action. And the NASUWT has made clear that it doesn’t plan to strike this academic year.
NUT executive member Nick Grant spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity. “Activists have no choice but to intensify their calls on NEC members for strikes,” he said.
“It is still possible to call a strike for budget day on 20 March at the next NEC meeting on 28 February.”
NUT activists who want the union to lead a fight against the Tories should also make sure they are delegated to the union’s annual conference at the end of March.
Other unions, such as the PCS, are balloting for national strikes. Teachers must throw themselves into building support for any action that takes place.
Strikes can beat the Tories. We have to pile the pressure on union leaders to call them.
Sign the petition calling on the NUT to strike to defend teachers bit.ly/X3gP8h