By NEU members in Socialist Alternative
The strikes so far have been a great success, with 60,000 marching in London on 15th March and a fantastic 98% vote to reject the government offer. Members are standing strong despite pressure as exam season is upon us.
The demand raised by the union for a pay rise of at least 12%, to be fully funded rather than taken from existing school budgets and to be backdated until September, is what we should be focused on winning. Offers which represent significantly less than this should not be considered. Socialist Alternative members at the conference called for escalating this action, starting with an intensive week of coordinated strike action to step up the momentum, we also argued for tightening up on exam ‘exemptions’ so our strike action is effective. Whilst educators may be worried about the impact on students taking exams, we cannot afford to lose momentum. There are plans for a re-ballot to begin in schools on 15th May.
It will likely be necessary to call further strikes in the run up to this, if the government still refuses to talk. Members in Sixth Form have successfully reballoted, but a reballot which ends in July will mean we lose the steam we have built in the last few months because of the summer holidays.
- Escalate – We must prepare to escalate our action quickly if the government continues its refusal to enter meaningful talks. The longer the summer term goes on, the less time we have to make an impact. We need to bring this to a head as soon as possible!
- Coordinate – We must continue to work for maximum coordination with other unions in education including non education unions in dispute. We are striking at the same time as nurses, RCN members who voted to reject the government’s offer. Ultimately, a General Strike of ALL unions in dispute is necessary to defeat this government on pay and funding and their draconian anti-union legislation
- Democratise – Decisions made about when to settle our dispute, and on what basis, should involve a broad section of members and activists. A strike liaison committee of reps and National Executive members can play part of that role but discussions held in the branches on issues we raise above, are vital to discuss strategy and next steps.
- Politicise – Socialist Alternative supports protests targeting the education privatisers and demands they be kicked out of our public services and return ALL of education to the public sector. We also need an alternative to a Labour Party that sits on the fence when teachers are fighting for the future of education, a party that knows which side it’s on.