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Teachers need national strike now!

Teachers, civil servants and lecturers are set to lose tens of thousands of pounds from their pensions over a lifetime because the government wants to peg them to the retail price index, which does not take account of the real rise in living costs, in particular housing costs. On top of this, teachers will typically have to pay in an extra £30 a month and retire five years later than now.

East London Teacher’s Association has held large meetings, where there is a genuine desire for industrial action over cuts to school budgets too. In particular, teachers are gearing up for a fight over the slashing of Special Educational Needs and Ethnic Minority Achievement budgets. Teacher’s pay is also due for an increase (a deal dating back to 2008’s well backed one day strike) but local authorities, of course, have no money.

NUT branches will be calling strikes in individual schools over all these issues and the ever present threat of academies. This is all very good but it is only when the union calls a national strike – like they did in 2008 – that the membership has a chance of winning. We should be balloting nationally on all the issues, not just pensions.

But rather than speeding things up and gathering more forces, we are seeing the opposite. The union executive continues to drag its feet over a strike ballot over pensions. It has been over two months since the NEC voted for action, yet members have still not received their ballots.

Now Mark Serwotka (PCS) and Sally Hunt (UCU) appear to prefer striking over redundancy pay, rather than pensions. We must make sure all this talk about ”co-ordinated action” does not become an excuse for delaying our own national strike.

No more delays – run the ballot and bring forward national claims against all cuts, for our pay rise to be funded and to halt the academies programme.

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