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The NUT and the Grand old Duke of York

 

By Bernie McAdam

Teachers from both main unions have overwhelmingly supported a series of regional strikes against Education Secretary Michael Gove’s attacks on pay, pensions and workload. This action was meant to be a forerunner to a national strike before Christmas.

But now the NUT leadership has decided to call off further action for the promise of talks with Gove. Teachers will feel with a justified sense of déjà vu that they have, in the words of the nursery rhyme, been marched up to the top of the hill and down again!

The NUT and Nasuwt have welcomed confirmation that Gove “is willing to discuss a basis for genuine talks” on teachers’ concerns. If talks don’t progress we have been assured that joint national strike action will be called no later than 13 February.

This is just not good enough! We are kicking the can down the road again. Our leaders have a history of stalling and delaying. This “cunning plan” invariably leaves us in a weaker position – as happened in 2012 with our defeat in the pensions dispute.

Gove has made it abundantly clear where he stands. In September he wrote that talks would be possible “about the implementation of these changes” only. He has given no hint at all that he will step back from any of his attacks.

This is just a ruse for Gove to defuse our campaign. Union leaders do not see action as anything other than an elaborate protest. There is no other strategy for victory other than “negotiations”. Meanwhile the Tories are already half way down the road of smashing up our comprehensive education system. We should be escalating the action not calling it off!

A new strategy is needed. Teacher reps should call meetings in their areas to protest. Joint union strike committees should be formed in every school. If the union leaders refuse to act, then we must be prepared to coordinate unofficial action.

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