Empowering members through workplace organising

by Jodie Mallier-Ridley, Coventry NEU

Making every issue a union issue and organising in schools- the key to a powerful union

Some of the most exciting and engaging discussions at NEU conference at Easter centred around activism and promoting the organising agenda in the workplace. 

NEU Left members took the lead in these important motions, and we heard some effective arguments pushing this, especially relating to Value Education, Value Educators (VE; VE).

Motion 47 and the supporting amendment were passed overwhelmingly, allowing us as a union to move forward with a relentless focus on strengthening our school and district groups. 

This will empower all members to tackle any matter with confidence, making every issue a union issue.

VE; VE is the tool which will take us forward to bargain and win on issues including pay, workload and accountability. 

Educators worked incredibly hard during the pandemic, unlike the Tories we were not drinking and partying, and it is about time that we were valued as professionals. 

When conference voted to prioritise VE:VE as the main organising approach of the union it was a very exciting and positive moment for us all. Even more exciting is the NEU Left being at the centre, as our principles fully embody VE:VE. 

During the conference debate, NEU Left members pointed towards successful campaigns in Coventry and East Sussex, where union groups worked collectively to achieve success. 

We also discussed how the districts with the most impressive turnouts on the pay survey were those which worked hard to form a coherent network of reps and members. We can all learn from their methods, and VE:VE is undoubtedly the best way to capitalise on this.

We have lost 17% of our pay since 2010, and teacher recruitment targets have not been met for the past eight years. The situation is now unsustainable.  

With 44% of NEU members planning to leave the education profession within the next 5 years, citing excessive workload and accountability as the main triggers, can we really afford not to organise and fight in every workplace, in every district across the country? 

The government have chosen not to address these very worrying problems, instead blaming and gaslighting teachers at every opportunity. 

The motion passed at conference now helps us within the NEU Left to organise and connect, using the VE:VE materials to make gains in every area of our working lives. 

A co-ordinated VE:VE agenda putting reps and officers at the centre will be the key to achieving strong and unified workplaces, as this is where our power lies. 

It signifies a return to the traditional methods of trade unionism where every member can be involved and feel valued. 

When members see what we can achieve, we will all feel empowered to apply these strategies on a national level to fight for fairness and feel valued.

So what do we need to do now? 

Join the NEU Left, invite others, look out for upcoming meetings and share VE:VE strategies with others to make a real difference.

This is a really exciting and empowering time for our union – make sure you are a part of it!

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