Ballot is underway

Get the votes in to win strike ballots

It’s on. Strike ballot forms have been landing on doormats over the weekend and as we go back to school this week.

The fight is now to ensure a massive response that beats the government’s anti-union thresholds and  then leads to hard-hitting strikes to win fully-funded real pay rises for schools staff.

Teachers have seen real pay fall by 20 percent in the last decade, support staff by 27 percent. No wonder in the indicative ballots members overwhelmingly backed striking to win proper pay rises, and the funding for them.

The Tories can elect new prime ministers almost every month using email ballots if they wish- but their anti-union laws mean we have to go through the slow route of a postal ballot if we want to strike.

So it will be much harder to get the turn out we need- at least 50 percent of all members in each ballot group voting.

But if we organise and if we fight we can do it.

The starting point is that we can win this fight. The money is there to pay us, and other workers too. Giant corporations are making record profits, with the oil companies alone on course to hit £150 billion profit this year.

Even the bosses of Shell and BP have said they think the government should tax them more.

We have to make the government so fearful of strikes and social unrest that it is prepared to take the money from the rich and the corporations and fund pay rises for educators, health workers sand more.

We are not alone fighting – postal workers, BT workers, rail workers dock workers are already striking. Health workers are now balloting on pay strikes too as are civil servants.

If we all fight we have the power to force the government to pay up.

But first we have to win the ballot. That means getting the basics right.

Start in your school

That means starting with your own school. We can’t really on data dashboards in the postal ballot. Instead we have to look to the old fashioned but effective way of having a list of members and going round ticking them off when they tell you they have posted their ballot.

Call a meeting this week in your schools and ask people to bring filled in and sealed ballot  envelopes and we can post them collectively.

Do not give up until every member in your school has voted- we need a terrier-like tenacity to get every ballot form returned.

Where NEU Left supporters help lead districts we then need to have a plan on how to push the turn out across the district, targeting key schools with large memberships is a good place to start.

Meetings in schools, district pay briefings, phoning reps- these are the key methods we need.

And talk to other NEU Left supporters in your area and call an NEU Left meeting in your executive district this term too.

Invite a rail or post or health worker to speak about their fight and see if we can pull in wider layers of educators to join the NEU Left- and that expanded network can then help drive our ballot turn out even higher in your area.

There are no post strikes for the first two weeks of our ballot- so go hard and early this week and next to get the maximum turn out.

But after that, as the postal strikes disrupt and delay go not give up. We need to keep going at it, fighting for every last vote through to Christmas and beyond until the ballot closes at the start of January.

Let’s make sure we are then in a position to start the action we need to win the pay rises and the funding we and our schools deserve.

War is never the answer

AT the TUC recently a motion proposed by the GMB union was narrowly passed supporting increased defence spending. The NEU rightly opposed the motion. NEU Left member Jon Reddiford from North Somerset spoke for the union in the debate. This is his speech:

Jon speaking for the NEU opposing increased defence spending at the TUC

“There is much to agree with in the early part of this motion.  However, there is also a problem.  And that is that the motion calls for an increase in defence spending.  

Liz Truss has said that she will increase spending on defence, and cut spending in the public sector.  Armed forces minister James Heappey said yesterday he would resign if this commitment was not met.  Sadly this is a motion that Truss would support, and I think there is a problem if we are passing policy that the Tories would like.  

The TUC and affiliated unions have excellent policy on diversification of spending.  And there have been successes in this area.  Defence TUs persuaded Babcock, who run Rosyth shipyard to diversify into marine repair in Scotland.  

Similarly Trades Unions, I think it was T&G then, in Lucas aerospace 40 years ago persuaded the company to diversify, a similar TU approach to what happened in Babcock.  This actually works.  

Diversification is something we can really fight for.  

We saw at the start of the pandemic both Mercedes Formula 1 and Dyson very quickly repurpose their factories to produce urgently needed respirators.  So diversification is a very winnable thing.

Nye Bevan said the language of priorities is the religion of socialism.  

Truss’s policy is defence spending, arms sales, and that is what it means.  It does mean producing arms that will be sold to Saudi Arabia to kill kids in the Yemen.   It means selling arms to 12 countries that the foreign office lists as human rights abusers.  

Increased defence spending is not in the interests of the working class, it is in the interests of the British ruling class and their attempts to extend their international influence.  

The motion rightly says the world is a less safe place.  Yes it is.  And increased defence spending will make it worse.  What if every country did this?  There would be a new arms race the likes of which we saw during the cold war and in the run up to World War 1.   And that will only end badly.  The answer to war is never more war.  

Yesterday we passed a motion on just transition.  That is what we should fight for.  That is the solution to the high skilled jobs in Barrow, Derby and elsewhere, not investment in pointless, unproductive, murderous weapons.  Oppose this composite. “

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