TUC demo in 2011 was part of building towards mass strikes later that year.

Now build the fight to defend living standards

NEU Conference at Easter took the very big step of setting us on the road towards a national strike to defend our living standards.

That vote is just the start of a lot of work, if we are to carry the fight to this criminal government and defend our members.

The government’s proposals to the School Teachers Review Body are an assault on every current teacher- who will see their real terms living standard cut over the next two years, in some cases by over 10 percent.

It could be even worse, with latest figures showing inflation (using the RPI measure which includes housing) now hitting 9 percent – the highest for 30 years. The government’s Office for Budget Responsibility suggests inflation is likely to rise more, by  at least another 2 percent as the year goes on.

This huge squeeze on living standards comes after the average 17 percent cut in teachers’ living standards over  the last decade due to pay freezes and below inflation rises.

No trade union can allow members’ living  standards to be hammered like that without doing everything possible to mobilise a fight.

It’s not just teachers. Support staff are being hit even harder and across society we will see the biggest cut in living standards for a generation- unless we fight back.

But to do that means a razor like focus in the coming months on the organising and building we need to do if we are to beat the Tory anti-union ballot thresholds and be able to win a strike ballot.

We will, as required under union rules, have an internal indicative ballot starting 1 October first. If that shows enough support and indicates we stand a chance of beating the legal ballot turnout thresholds we can then move to an actual national strike ballot.

So what do we need to do in the coming weeks?

Build 18 June national demonstration

A key first step is to mobilise members around the TUC’s Saturday 18 June national demonstration in London on the cost of living crisis.

The bigger that is the more it can fuel the mood that resistance and fight back is possible, and that can help drive the organising on the ground needed to win any ballot.

In every area outside London we should be contacting other unions and booking coaches or even trains over the next couple of weeks for that demo.

Then few must fight to get tickets sold and create a sense of movement and momentum.

In London we need days of action in which, with other unions where possible, we mass leaflet transport hubs or shopping centres to build the 18th June.

The national union needs to produce massive amounts of publicity for 18th June- flyers, stickers, posters all hammering home the message that we need a huge turnout of NEU members for the demo.

Everywhere we should also be looking to have public meetings on the cost of living crisis in May, working with other local unions and with supportive politicians to begin to mobilise the anger on what is happening to living standards.

These can be the TUC “town hall” meetings, but we should have these everywhere even if the TUC isn’t having one on your area.

And in every district we need a meticulous plan, using the models sent out by the national union, to drive organisation down into every school both for the demo but also to carry the arguments and build the organisation needed to win the indicative ballot with a big enough turnout.

This should include school meetings but also pay briefings for members and reps. And in every area we also need to build and organise the NEU Left too- pulling together the best activists.

We will be holding a national NEU Left members meeting soon, and that will be followed by local meetings around the country. Why not join us and get involved?

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