NEU Left Bulletin (25-09-22)

Enthusiasm among NEU members for a pay fight

As teachers’ pay ballot starts..


The NEU online pay ballot for teachers got off to a flying start at 10:30am last Saturday.

In fact so many members tried to vote straight away that the system temporarily overloaded.

Within twenty four hours an astonishing 70,000 members had voted and we had passed the 28% turnout mark we reached in the January survey – the last time we did a national survey.

Thousands of members have also enlisted as volunteers. to help us organise and win this and the formal postal pay action ballot that will follow.

The scale of this response reflects the mood of anger amongst teachers at the 5 percent pay award and also the growing confidence inside the trade union movement that we can mount a challenge to the government’s fiscal policy.

The launch of the teacher ballot has also boosted turnout amongst support staff members – who we are also surveying about their pay offer. 

Enthusiasm amongst NEU school reps for the pay fight is evident – unusually  for the weekend NEU reps WhatsApp groups were buzzing with news and requests for information. 

The online ballot closes on 14 October and it is crucial that we use that time to organise in schools and Districts to smash through the 50 percent threshold and at the same time prepare for the formal ballot which will open after half-term.

Already we can see a clear link between the turnout and school reps attending briefings and holding school meetings – this effort must be intensified as we move to the formal ballot.

The current ballot is also a huge opportunity to build the NEU and shift the debate in every school. 

Where activists have reached out to members  and non-members to support our campaign we have recruited.  

We should be asking every member of staff in our schools to support the campaign, by voting, encouraging others to support the campaign or joining our union to get a say in the biggest education ballot for a generation.

We are living through turbulent times but the response from members should give us all confidence that we will be part of the fightback.

Stand shoulder to shoulder to win this fight

Union’s standing together can strengthen fight

NEU Left steering committee member and Coventry NEU president Jodie Mallier-Ridlelyspoke to a joint unions rally in Coventry last Saturday as our teacher pay ballot got underway. This was her message:

“I am delighted to speak here today. This rally is quite timely for the NEU as today we have opened our indicative ballot for teachers, asking if we accept or reject the poor, below inflation and quite frankly, insulting 5% pay offer made to us by the government. 

Like many other sectors, we have faced real terms pay cuts for the last twelve years. Last year we were awarded 0%. 0%! That felt like a kick in the teeth. 

After everything public sector workers did during the pandemic, where is the respect? Our members have been advised to reject the offer and vote yes for strike action if we do not receive a better offer which at the very least, matches inflation. The ballot opened at 10.30 and within minutes the system was overloaded as so many people were trying to vote!

We are also balloting support staff members, who have been presented with a derisory pay offer. Teaching assistants are already poorly paid, and deserve to be recognised properly for the work that they do to support students.

To add insult to injury, schools are being expected to cover pay rises from existing budgets. This will lead to even more cuts in resources and support for our neediest pupils. We already see a shortage of teachers – this will only get worse unless we fight it.

Teachers in Scotland are already leading the way. They were also offered 5%, but 94% of EIS members voted in an online ballot to reject it, and 90% said that they would be willing to strike. These figures are achievable here too, and fill us with hope!

Our government have time and time again shown us what they really value, and it is not us. Their biggest achievement seems to be the increased number of foodbanks and creaming off as much money as possible to maximise private profits. 

It is time to say that we have had enough.

We have a clear message for this government – How dare you? 

How dare you prioritise energy profits and expect ordinary working people to make cuts and sacrifices? How dare you continue to fill the deep pockets of billionaires whilst over two million people have to resort to using foodbanks? How dare you wilfully make us poorer and rip apart our public services? 

This is the biggest squeeze in living standards in over 200 years, no wonder people are terrified. But the positive and exciting thing is that workers up and down the country are standing up, refusing to accept it and organising to fight back. 

In the NEU we have been inspired by members of the RMT, CWU and close to home, the UNITE bin lorry drivers. We are now ready and excited to be a part of this movement for change too. We need mass rallies, demonstrations and co-ordinated action.

Let’s back each other, stand shoulder to shoulder and push for all workers to get the pay rise we deserve. 

Stand up to Racism

International anti-racist conference Saturday 15 October

The Stand up too Racism International Conference is now just under one month away, with hundreds already booked up.

The conference will not only draw together activists and campaigners and the experience of the anti racist and anti fascist movements across the world, but it will also discuss how we can ensure that we don’t let them divide us, that our movement organises to challenge the politics of divide and rule.

The conference will run (10am registration) 11am to 5pm, with four consecutive running social forum style sessions

Session one: 

From Child Q to Chris Kaba, Resisting Institutional Racism

Session two: 

#StopRwanda offshoring, Opposing the Racist Hostile Environment #AllRefugeesWelcome 

Session three:

Cost of Living Crisis, Unity and Solidarity – Don’t Let The Racists Divide Us

Session four:

How Do We Stop the Racist and Fascist Right – No to Hate and Division

Anti racists from across Britain and the world will converge in central London (and the conference will run as a hybrid with online access to participate) to discuss action, strategy and ideas for building the growing movement against racism. Confirmed speakers so far include:

Kevin Courtney National Education Union General Secretary; Shami Chakrabarti former Shadow Attorney General and human rights activist; Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP; Jermain Jackman winner of the Voice 2014; Dawn Butler MP; Wilf Sullivan TUC Race Equality Officer; Sarah Woolley BFAWU General Secretary; Clare Moseley founder of Care4Calais; Michael Holding international cricketer and author; Birdgirl (Dr. Mya-Rose Craig) ornithologist and climate activist; David Rosenberg Jewish Socialist Group; Chantelle Lunt Merseyside BLM; Juliana Ojinnaka UCU Black Members Committee Chair; Ryan Colaço campaigner against police brutality; Denis Goddard French antiracist activist; Cathy Pound Searchlight; Talha Ahmad Muslim Council of Britain; Mohammed Kozbar Muslim Association of Britain; Paula Peters Disabled People Against Cuts; Trevor Ngwane South African anti apartheid and environmental campaigner

Book your place today:

NEU Left Bulletin (23-09-22)

Why you should vote for a pay strike – a message from General Secretary candidate Daniel Kebede

Check your email inbox this weekend- you will get a link to vote in the NEU consultative ballot on pay. If the response is strong enough we will move to a formal postal ballot this term for national strikes to win a fully funded proper pay rise. Watch this short video for why you should vote and vote yes.

Daniel was NEU president over the last year and is now back working in school

NEU Left Bulletin (19-09-22)

Over 70 people from over 50 schools joined this pay ballot briefing in Lambeth, south London.

All out to win pay ballots

The NEU’s internal ballot on teachers’ pay gets underway on Saturday 24th September- when members should get their email link to vote.

Already some districts have had excellent pay briefings. Many, many more are happening this week.

Support staff members have already started their consultation ballot on pay, as have sixth form college members.

In the next days and weeks winning these ballots with the largest possible turnout has to be the number one priority for every NEU activist.

We then need to move to full strike ballots as quickly as possible, so we can pile the pressure on the government with hard hitting strike action and win the pay rise and funding for it we all deserve and need.

Getting members and reps to pay briefings is a crucial first step- all the data says that where that happens the turn out is highest.

So where possible phone and talk to reps and connect up with them. Use the union’s materials to push for school meetings to carry the arguments for a fight down into as many schools as possible.

If you help run a district make sure reps have lists of members to go round and check they have voted- encourage them to involve others in their schools in this work too.

Push for districts to have a targeted strategy- look at the schools where the bulk of the membership is concentrated – use the NEU pay dashboard to hep with this. Focus on getting meetings in these schools and driving up the turn out to push past government thresholds.

In schools with no rep see if you can persuade someone to be one or at least some people to become ballot organisers. This internal ballot will be followed by a full postal strike ballot so building organisation is crucial to win that with the turn out needed too.

If you are in a less organised district or don’t help run the district, then start with making sure the turn out is high in your own school. But then reach out- offer to help the district officers with phoning reps and members in other schools, contact people in nearby schools directly and encourage them too.

Every connection, every step to developing and deepening organisation will help – not just in this internal ballot but in the postal strike ballot that will follow.

Use your local NEU Left network to discuss the pay campaign, what works and what does not and to support each other in driving up the turn out.

SEND REPORTS, STORIES and PICTURES to ne[email protected] and we will include them in future bulletins

If you agree with the arguments in this bulletin why not join the NEU Left? Go to the Join us page on this website.

Unite the fights on Saturday 1 October

Uniting the fights strengthens us all

All workers face the same pressures on pay, jobs and funding. And more are now fighting back and striking. Linking up and uniting the fights can strengthen us all.

On Saturday 1 October there is a huge chance to do that.

The CWU postal workers’ union has called a national strike in Royal Mail on the same day as the RMT, ASLEF and TSSA unions have called more rail strikes.

Alongside this dockers at Felixstowe and Liverpool – ports which handle 60 percent if Britain’s container traffic- are beginning sustained strike action too. And now hundreds of thousands of nurses in the Royal College of Nursing have been told by their union that they will be balloting next month on strikes as well.

The Enough is Enough campaign- which has held huge rallies across the county and seen 600,000 people sign up has called protests on 1 October in 13 cities.

They are London, Birmingham. Manchester, Liverpool. Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff, Newcastle, Hull, Norwich, Nottingham, Portsmouth and Plymouth.

We should organise to get NEU banners and members from districts and schools onto these and help turn them into united shows of working class resistance to the cost of living crisis.

If no rally has yet been called in your town or city yet then take the initiative- contact others in the local movement and get one set up- there should be no significant town or city without a protest that day.

That solidarity and unity can help fuel the mood everywhere, boost the turn out in our own ballot and feed the confidence that we can all fight and win.

Scotland shows the way

Teachers in the EIS union in Scotland have voted massively for a fight on pay in an internal union ballot.

The 60,000 strong EIS is the main teachers union in Scotland and its members voted by 91 percent on a 78 percent turnout to reject a 5 percent pay offer – ie a 7 percent real terms pay cut- and for a strike to win a better pay deal.

The union has now said it will move to a formal strike ballot.

Let’s organise to make sure our union- with our 460,000 members is not far behind!

Mothers in Prison conference

By Siobhan Colligwood

This conference aims to shine a light on the broken criminal justice response to women and families. A culture of shame and blame, makes many of us reluctant to engage with the issues faced by children affected and with their mother in prison. 

Each year 17,000 children are separated from their mother due to maternal incarceration. No help is available, no agencies are responsible and schools often don’t know what they are going through. 

Most of these children have to leave  home, have fractured family relationships and if they do get to visit their Mum have to travel an average of 65 miles to get there. Nobody explains  what is happening: little surprise then, that many experience mental health problems and enter the criminal justice system themselves.

Why is this considered necessary – how much of a risk do women in prison pose to the wider society? Most of the women in prison are non-violent, with more harm inflicted upon them than by them. 67% of women are in prison for non-violent reasons. Women in prison are twice as likely to have experienced domestic abuse and nearly seven times more likely to self harm.

Many of the problems that have contributed to their path to prison, are exacerbated following a prison sentence – 20% are homeless before entering prison increasing by a further 30% on release, 40% are unemployed before entering increasing by a further 35% on release.

It is now proposed to  increase female prison numbers by 500 costing £26 million. Every £1 spent on this programme could save £2.84 by investing in holistic community based responses.

In Conclusion, largely traumatised non-violent women are sent to prison, they and their  families are stigmatised and damaged. 

The problems faced before entering prison are made worse not better, and it costs nearly three times more to punish rather than heal. 

Why are we not applying trauma informed principles to those in need of assistance?  Why would we not seek to  fix broken people and families? 

Perhaps if we did, we would not only make life better for individuals, but would start to fix apparently unassailable societal ills that affect all of us. This conference aims to encourage professionals to work together to make a difference.

Forest Fight lessons

On the picket line in Waltham Forest

In the NEU Educate magazine recently, there was an article about wins by school groups in Waltham Forest, London. We spoke to Sandra Faria and Pablo Phillips joint district secretaries.

The title of the Educate piece was “our members are fed up with being taken for granted”. Can you tell us why this is and what the mood has been like in Waltham Forest?


Our members worked very hard through the pandemic, having to adapt to very different working conditions with minimal support to achieve astonishing levels of engagement from young people and their families. This year many of them returned to work after the summer holidays to face underfunded schools where more was being asked from them for less or the same pay. Many came back to see their jobs or pensions at risk. They faced the choice of accepting this or understanding that they couldn’t carry on being pulled into low levels of morale and job insecurity.

We pay inner London rents, inner London mortgages and inner London childcare rates. We are paid outer London wages. Many of us have been loyal workers, staying in Waltham Forest for years because we believed in the value of our work here. Those experienced staff were at the forefront of many of these attacks on their working conditions and they couldn’t just accept that this is the way they should be treated.

There have been a flurry of strikes in Waltham Forest this year. How did it all start?


Six women members, part of the support staff body at Salisbury Manor, decided that they weren’t going to accept changes in contract that were discriminatory, after their views were completely ignored during consultation. They took a stand and won. Then, members at a private school, Forest School, were told they would be taken out of the Teachers’ Pension scheme, so they also took a stand. From then on, as threats of restructures and detriments to working conditions for members started coming in, members felt encouraged to stand up for each other.


I think the key thing was the Salisbury Manor dispute. I think one of the things about it was that it was the anger that these women expressed. They felt really angry. It was quite electrifying being in a meeting with them. And that was the same feeling at Forest school. 

Forest school was an Independent school which took strike action. To many this seems a bit surprising. What was the issue and what did the strikes achieve?


Well it is if you think that educators are somehow different from one workplace to another but they are not. Teachers’ pensions being attacked are not any different in a private school.


And also those teachers not only fought for themselves, it was also for others. So they kept themselves in the TPS, got agreement that new joiners could join. After 4 strike days they also won a 5% pay rise which wasn’t even part of the dispute! 

There were also strikes at South Chingford, Walthamstow Academy and cleaners struck at Connaught school for girls. What have been the main issues driving these strikes? 


Redundancies, workload and support staff terms and conditions. In the case of South Chingford the issues were about attacks on the PE staff as well as workload issues. 


Walthamstow primary members had just had enough. They made a list of demands,49 of them. They ended up getting 48 agreed. It was cleaners who were being TUPEd which was the basis of the dispute and again its support staff leading the way. The pickets at WPA and South Chingford were amazing. They had breakfast for students and bubble blowing. Struggle makes you creative. 

How do you think those strikes affected other school groups in Waltham Forest?


Every strike that happened in Waltham Forest emboldened members across the district to make their voices heard when school leaders ignored them or pushed their concerns aside. It also made school leaders aware of the power of the union and in many other cases this was enough to allow proper negotiations, not just consultations, to take place.


As Sandra said, it emboldened members. It was like a norm to ballot. Connaught members balloted twice after the cleaners were balloted. You know, it became like a strike news update every week. Emails to all members about the latest ballot or dispute.

How have reps and reps committees developed during this year in Waltham Forest? Are they more confident?


Rep committees help bring about confidence for reps and for union groups in general. It is easier to put arguments together as a cohesive committee on behalf of a wider group than as a single rep. In schools with single reps, there is still plenty of dialogue across school groups that helps reps find news ways to negotiate with leadership.


I remember Sandra developed this during Covid. It made sense and has grown. It can create a new layer of leaders. And of course the strikes and ballots throw up new reps and reps committees in places they had not existed before. If you want a sign of confidence, we had reps training in the first week of July. Both me and Sandra were ill and couldn’t attend and yet the day was a total success cos the reps organised and ran the day themselves.

Looking to the pay ballot,  what are members saying?


Members want fair pay and they know the ballot is our only meaningful negotiation tool. There is absolute enthusiasm for the pay ballot across union groups.


We are hoping the confidence and spirit will spill over into a positive turnout. I think members this year have given themselves a fighting chance to win a ballot.

Finally, Have you got any tips for other districts in terms of winning a successful pay ballot?


Be flexible, some members and reps can and will attend meetings, others will respond to emails or texts, others will prefer to be approached in person in school. Our membership is diverse, so our approach needs to be diversified as well.


Try and make it an enjoyable and fun time. Do group selfies, go out and have a meal with the group, do a phonebank evening and order pizzas. And as Sandra said, be flexible. Being formulaic is a disaster. 

NEU Left bulletin (04-09-22)

Tens of thousands joined the TUC march this summer- now let’s turn that mood into strikes to win

Strike back to win

Whoever is the prime minister and whoever is education secretary as the new school year gets under way some things are clear.

Unless we fight, our living standards will take a hammering not seen for a generation.

Workload will get even worse, as schools are pushed to cut jobs or even close part of the time as funding falls way behind inflation and they struggle to afford heating bills.

Our students and their families will suffer from that and the catastrophic impact of soaring fuel and food prices.

That’s why we have to organise and fight to win on pay and funding.


For teaching staff, the NEU preliminary ballot, required under union rules, starts on Saturday 24 September. This will be an email internal ballot and will include asking members to confirm their postal address.

We need a massive turn out in this. The postal address check really matters as the full strike ballot set to start after half term has to be to home postal addresses under Tory anti-union laws.

Many districts already have detailed plans- with school meetings, district pay briefings, phone banks.

They have looked at data from previous ballots and targeted key schools and groups of members – aimed at driving up the turn out and building towards beating the 50% turnout threshold in the full strike ballot needed to take strike action.

Everywhere needs to follow these examples- use your local NEU Left to share experiences and discuss the best approaches and reach into every district and as many schools as possible.


The arguments for a fight are simple and clear.

Teachers’ pay has already been cut 20% in real terms in the last decade and now faces an up to 7 percent cut on top this autumn – with inflation already over 12 percent compared with the 5% pay award the government is giving experienced teachers.

We already face a recruitment and retention crisis- with latest figures showing almost a third of teachers who qualified just in 2019 have already left the job. Without a proper pay rise that will get worse and will lead to a worse education for students.

Support staff without whom are schools cannot function also face more pay cuts. They have been offered an average 8%  from next April- still at least a 4 percent pay cut in real terms. 

The NEU is consulting support staff members on this and rightly recommending  rejection in a survey now underway. 

We do not have negotiating rights for support staff- and the unions that do, such as the GMB and Unison are balloting their members too. On our own we may not be able to get a strike for support staff. But we have to show we are ready to fight and press for that.


Worse still the government have made clear that even the pay cuts they are offering all educators are not funded- so schools will have to cut into existing budgets, increasing pressure on jobs and workload even more.

And with fuel and food price soaring schools will struggle to stay open and heat buildings this autumn and winter too- and soaring costs could see school meal cuts which will add the to the real hunger and poverty many of our students and their families face.

The money is there to give us all decent pay rise and to fund schools properly. It’s just going into the wrong pockets at the moment.


Oil companies are making record profits. Exxon Mobil raked in over £12 billion profit in the last 3 months alone. Shell and Chevron pocketed over £10 billion profit between them in the same 3 months and BP grabbed over £ 5 billion profit from January to March this year.

Their profits will have soared even more since, as oil and gas prices have leapt up in recent months.

While families struggle with spiralling food prices, the giant food corporations have never had it so good. Just four combines  – Archer-Daniels-Midland; Bunge ; Cargill, and Dreyfus  (known as the ABCD cartel) control almost 90 percent of world grain trade.

Their profits have gone through the roof in the past year- wth Cargill alone jumping to £140 billion profit  alone. 

There have been strikes this summer by rail work, postal workers, BT workers Felixstowe dockers, Amazon workers and more. All face pay cuts in real terms as well as attacks on jobs and working conditions. And in every case their boss are raking in profits and paying bonanza dividends out to shareholders.

BT made £2 billion profit in the year to March. Royal Mail grabbed £758 million profit and paid out £450 million to shareholders. 

The train companies made £500 million profit between them in the last year.  In the UK Amazon saw profits jump 76 percent to £204 million. 

And CK Hutchison Holdings which runs Felixstowe docks saw profits umps 28 percent to £79 million last year- and paid out £42 million in dividends to shareholders.

Those at the top of business are trousering huge pay rises while telling us we have to have pay cuts. The chief executives of the FTSE 100 biggest companies reported last moth their pay has gone up an average 39 percent- and that doesn’t include massive bonuses on top. 


Enough is enough has been theme of rallies around the country backed by many unions in recent weeks.

That’s spot on. Enough is enough- we have to organise and we have to fight and we have to win.

So get going in your school and district, build the NEU Left in your area to help spread the resistance, link up with others striking and fighting back.

Let’s fight and let’s win – for all our sakes.

Solidarity calling

Burton upon Trent
Stretham, south London
Tower Hamlets, east London

Many NEU members have been out showing solidarity with strikers over the summer- from RMT rail workers to CWU post and BT workers, Felixstowe dockers and more.

All are facing the same toxic combination of inflation, real terms pay cuts, workload and jobs pressures- and all deserve support and solidarity.

More strikes are set for the coming weeks- with CWU postal workers out again 8 and 9 September. Why not get to a picket line near you and see if you can take others from your school or district and get NEU banners to a picket line too?

And why not invite a striker along to your next school or district meeting? We all face the same fight- let’s link the struggles and build the solidarity.

General Secretary election

Daniel Kebede

Nominations need to be made by districts this term for the NEU general secretary election that is taking place after Xmas. The NEU Left, along with many others, is backing DANIEL KEBEDE, who has just completed a year as NEU President and is now back working in school, and urges districts to ensure you have nominations on the agenda for a meeting this term and ask members to vote for your district to nominate Daniel


Please pass this motion in your district to support the Palestine Festival 2023
This district notes the unions ongoing support for the Palestinian people in their fight for justice and freedom from occupation.
Annual conference this year reaffirmed this commitment and also the need to support the call by Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions.
This district welcomes the work by many lay members to raise awareness and share the work of the union in this area. We welcome the work of lay activists in building for a Palestinian Cultural Festival in the UK in May 2023 to coincide with the Nakba demonstrations in London.
This district agrees to:

  1. Donate *£500 towards the cost of the festival
  2. Publicise the event with members locally
  3. Fund expenses for up to *5 members to attend the Festival
    1. Raise the festival in local trades councils and encourage other trade Union branches to make donations and publicise to their members
  • These figures can be amended

Cuba Education Appeal

This District notes that:
• 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the US blockade of Cuba despite 29 UN General
Assembly votes calling for its termination. The blockade causes shortages across all sectors
in Cuba, including education.
• During the COVID-19 pandemic the blockade added to the suffering and loss of life on the
island by preventing purchase and delivery of vital equipment and medicines to treat
patients and the roll out Cuba’s vaccination programme.
• Despite the blockade, Cuba with some of the best education indicators in Latin America has,
in the year 2000, met all the objectives set by the UNESCO supported Education for All (EFA).
Cuban students and teachers however are frequently forced to make do without many of
the basic necessities that we take for granted.
• In 2021, Oxfam reported that, during the pandemic, the US blockade slowed the use of new
technologies for teaching and forced Cuba to resort to broadcasting daily classes to 1.7
million students on television.
• NEU members who have participated in delegations to Cuba all agree that the blockade is
the fundamental hindrance to educational development in Cuba and results in noticeable
shortages in Cuban classrooms.
This District welcomes:
• ‘Viva La Educación’ joint appeal by the NEU and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign to support
students and teachers in Cuba by raising money for educational and teaching resources.
This District resolves:
• To donate £250/£500/£1,000/(other amount) to the NEU Viva La Educación fundraising
appeal details of which can be found at the following link:
• To encourage members and school groups to contribute to the appeal.
• To submit, as appropriate, motions on this issue to bodies such as Regional Councils, trades
councils and Regional TUCs.