“Due to the NEU’s success in surpassing the fifty percent boundary laid down in the Tory Trade union bill, the union has now declared seven days of strike action in February and March.”
By Logan Williams
Yesterday the National Education Union announced its historic result in its first national strike ballot. The union were able to beat the restrictive Tory trade union laws on a fifty three percent turnout with ninety percent of teachers in England voting to undertake strike action and a similar percentage voting in Wales.
Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union (NEU), stated “this is not about a pay rise but correcting historic real-terms pay cuts. Teachers have lost 23% in real-terms since 2010, and support staff 27% over the same period. The average 5% pay rise for teachers this year is some 7% behind inflation. In the midst of a cost of living crisis, that is an unsustainable situation”.
They went on to argue that the government must support a fully funded pay rise for all teaching staff and argued “If they do not, then the consequences are clear for parents and children. The lack of dedicated maths teachers, for example, means that 1 in 8 pupils are having work set and assessed by people who are not qualified in the teaching of maths. Anyone who values education should support us in this dispute because that is what we are standing up for. It is not us who should turn a blind eye to the consequences of Government policy on schools and colleges.”
As well as focussing on the continued devaluation of teachers pay, many reps and activists across the country are utilising their new found platforms to raise the issue of school funding. With the latest Government pay offer being unfunded it places further constraints on schools budged which one district secretary in the North East of England described as being so tight that it is “like there’s-a-ring-stuck-on-my-finger-and-it’s-going-to-have-to-be-cut-off-with-a-special-tool tight.”
These already constrained budgets have led both teaching and support staff to spend a chunk of their salary on resources for their classes ranging from: buying felt tips, buying food to provide breakfast for students, buying whiteboard pens and, other basic stationary items to keep their lessons going day in and day out.
Due to the NEU’s success in surpassing the fifty percent boundary laid down in the Tory Trade union bill, the union has now declared seven days of strike action in February and March, though any individual school will only be affected by four of them. These members will be joined by teacher members in sixth form colleges across England, who have already been balloted and taken strike action in recent months, in a separate but linked dispute with the Secretary of State for Education.
The full list of strike days are:
- Wednesday, 1 February: all eligible members in England and Wales.
- Tuesday, 14 February: all eligible members in Wales.
- Tuesday, 28 February: all eligible members in Northern, North West, Yorkshire & The Humber regions.
- Wednesday, 1 March: all eligible members in East Midlands, West Midlands, Eastern regions.
- Thursday, 2 March: all eligible members in London, South East, South West regions.
- Wednesday, 15 March: all eligible members in England and Wales.
- Thursday, 16 March: all eligible members in England and Wales.
It is vital that we as the Left of the Labour movement seek to ensure the entire Labour and progressive movement stands shoulder to shoulder with these educators who have taken the hard decision to engage in strike action to protect the future of education. We must seek to organise visits to picket lines across the country, striking workers to speak at our CLPs and branches and, build the movement capable of leading the fightback.