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Teachers call for strike action – Gove’s attacks must be stopped


By Bernie McAdam, Sandwell NUT


The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is gearing up for a national strike on Wednesday 13 March, possibly coinciding with a European TUC Day of Action against austerity.

This is a direct response to Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove’s vicious attack on teachers’ pay. His plans will involve the scrapping of automatic pay progression from September 2013.

Performance-related pay would become the norm. The aim is obviously to eradicate national pay bargaining with the unions and leave individual teachers weaker, with consequently greater divisions within the staff room.

This attack comes hard on the heels of a defeat over teachers’ pensions. In fact the pay freeze and pensions changes taken together represent a 16 per cent pay cut for teachers. Never was it more true to say that the unions’ inability to stop Gove over pensions merely emboldened him to press home a series of attacks as part of his overall aim of completely dismantling the education system. The most spectacular element in this programme is forcing through academies and free schools. Creeping privatisation means no trace of democratic control over these schools and riding roughshod over trade union rights.

Wining strategy needed

The scale of the attacks is so wide-ranging and deep that union leaders involved in the education sector should have long ago developed a joint campaign of action in defence of education with the involvement of all education workers plus parents and students.

Essentially the union leaders have failed to develop a winning strategy. What we need is escalating strike action up to and including an all-out indefinite strike. This has to be campaigned for seriously and in every workplace. It should not be limited to wages or pensions though that would at least be a start. It must be called as a battle to overturn the entire government strategy on education.

The NUT should take a lead in this direction. The one-day strike in March must be the launching pad for an intensifying battle with the government and a wider appeal for all workers, students and parents for solidarity.

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