A message from NEU Left members on the NEU national executive.
Let’s be clear, our union is fighting to win on pay.
At the special executive we agreed a strategy fought for by NEU Left members. We said:
“Our strategy is committed to building organisation in the union and members confidence, and to launch and win a national ballot on Pay.
“We commit to put every effort nationally, regionally and locally to put ourselves in position to call and win a national ballot at the earliest possible opportunity.
“We will seek to position our campaign in the wider “Cost of Living Crisis”, and will approach other Trade Unions, the TUC and supportive organisations for joint working and campaigning on areas such as pay, funding, child poverty and other impacts of a decade of austerity”
We then went on to outline steps that we need to take to be in position to be able, not just to ballot but, more importantly, to ballot and win.
At every level of the union we now need the activity called for by the Executive. This includes:
- branches holding Reps Pay Survey Feedback meetings in the week immediately following half term
- reps holding workplace meetings before the end of the Spring Term, to discuss the campaign and their ballot result and to check membership lists, member details etc
- the union producing materials to help members speak with parents and governors and to produce workplace STRB evidence
- building and supporting lobbies of MPs at their surgeries
- organising “Days of Action” with street stalls on Funding and Pay, inviting other unions to join with us across local areas to raise the question of the cost of living crisis
- local Rallies on Pay (liaising with other trade unions wherever possible)
We think the union should be producing imaginative materials to carry the argument to members on why we should fight on pay, the wider cost of living crisis, and that the money is there to fund proper pay rises and education.
The executive also committed to calling a national demonstration on the cost of living crisis in the summer term, approaching the TUC to coordinate this but being prepared to construct our own “coalition of the willing” if needed.
Many of us have started work on this activity already. An organising meeting for a London-wide protest is being called for the first week after half term. We now need that replicated in every area of the country.
There are some in the union who don’t support this strategy, calling instead for an immediate indicative ballot. Some of those people have said that the Executive have ruled out strike action. Nothing could be further from the truth. We question the motivation behind this spreading of misinformation.
We were also committed to keeping reference to the VEVE organising work in the motion. We need to link the pay campaign to the orientation on building strength at school level. We did not agree with the amendment that sought to delete this.
We call on every member of the union, from top to bottom, to pull behind the strategy fought for and won by NEU Left comrades. We need unity on the ground to build for a fight that can win.
The executive overwhelmingly supported a strategy that NEU Left members were key to developing. It is a strategy that could take us from where we are, to where we all want to be. It is the right strategy.
The NEU pay survey was a great start to a serious campaign by the union over the question of pay.
The survey allowed us to reach out to members and engage with them, organising meetings in schools, gaining new reps and raising the level of activity of our reps and activists.
The result of the survey, with a 28% turn out and 74% of members saying that they would be prepared to take strike action is a very strong start.
We need to learn lessons from the survey too – for future ballots.
Clarity of communication with members can and must be improved, and thinning down messaging to members so that if we are balloting the only communication for the duration of the ballot is focussed on that is a key step.
Let’s build in coming weeks, assess where we are at conference and then plan how we take the next steps to get the fight we know we need if we are to defend members’ living standards.
That will certainly include putting feet on the streets in the summer term – and that can help build the mood which can see us win a ballot too.
And it will include moving to an indicative ballot – whether in the autumn term or sooner if we judge the mood is strong enough and we can win it.
It’s time to get serious, time to build for the fight that we need to turn the tide on a decade of pay cuts.