Scotland shows the way as EIS delivers massive strike vote
Teachers in Scotland have voted overwhelmingly for strikes on pay and will be out for the first national schools strike in Scotland in almost 40 years on Thursday 24th November.
This is the same day as Royal Mail workers in the CWU and university staff in the UCU union will also be out on strike over pay across Britain.
This kind of coordinated action can make all our fights more powerful.
Some 50,000 members of the EIS union, which represents the vast majority of teachers in schools in Scotland backed strikes by 96 percent with a 71 percent turnout in a postal ballot.
They are demanding a 10 percent pay rise instead of the 5 percent – a real terms pay cut- they have been offered.
Teachers’ pay has fallen in real terms by around 25 percent in the last 14 years in Scotland, according to the EIS.
The first strike needs to be a huge show of strength and then followed up with hard hitting action to win.
Fight for every vote in pay ballots
Teachers and support staff in schools across England and Wales are now two weeks into our national ballot on strikes on pay.
It comes as inflation hits a 40 year high-over 10 percent on the government’s measure but over 14 percent on the more accurate RPI measure which includes housing.
That means the 5 percent pay award is a near 10 percent pay cut in real terms.
That’s why we have to win our ballot, beat the thresholds and join the growing numbers of other workers in the pay revolt.
Rail, post, university workers, health workers, civil servants have all either voted for strikes or are taking action.
Sixth form teachers in the NEU this week joined the revolt-with a magnificent 88.5 percent strike vote in a 63 percent turn out.
Teachers at some 70 colleges are now likely to join university workers and postal workers on strike in 30 November.
Due to possible delays and disruption by postal strikes the school teachers’ ballot runs through to January. It is vital that the excellent start to the ballot is kept up now- and every vote is fought for.
In every school reps need to go round with a checklist of members checking, and checking again, and again, who has voted and pushing to get every ballot returned.
In districts as well as meetings, texts, emails and other reminders we should also organise phone banking- get activists together for a series of centralised phone rounds. Use the time between now and the end of term to phone as many members as possible and drive up the turn out
If we beat the thresholds our ballot is valid for six months- which means we have to start discussing too what kind of strike action will be needed to win an inflation plus play rise this school year.
Liverpool docks victory
Liverpool dockers have shown how to fight and win. Hard hitting strike action- which saw them out for repeated periods of two weeks at a time- has won pay rises of between 14.3 and 18.5 percent- compared to an initial offer of just 5 percent.
Civil servants join pay revolt
Over 100,000 civil servants in the PCS union have voted for pay strikes, beating the ballot thresholds.
In a disaggregated ballot – with different government departments counted separately- key areas such as the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home Offices and Department of Transport have backed strikes.
Others that narrowly missed the thresholds such as the HMRC tax offices will be re-balloted.
A debate is now underway in the PCS- as it will be in every union involved in the pay revolt about the most effective strike action that can beat the government
Stop this fire and rehire attack
by Unison rep Julie Forgan
School support staff in the Union union in Southbank Multi Academy Trust in York are fighting a P&O style fire and rehire assault.
The Trust bosses are tearing up contracts for both TAs and HTLA’s across the six schools in the MAT and saying we will no longer be salaried staff paid for 52 weeks but term time only.
They are blaming the unfunded pay rise for school support staff, but the cuts mean we lose the pay rise and some.
Some TA’s are facing a pay cut of over £3,000. At my school there 8 of us in the nursery team who are impacted. We have launched a campaign to resist this.
The day we were told we refused to do parents evening and it had to be cancelled. We wrote a paper petition which was signed by every parent on the nursery gate the next day. The petition has now been signed by 125 parents.
Ironically we received an outstanding in all areas Ofsted this week. I carried out an indicative ballot and all 8 voted for strike action.
We have an all union all schools meeting this Thursday as there are also teacher redundancies as part of the restructure.
We now have an online petition https://chng.it/pyjYqwRQJG . Please sign and share it.
Send messages of support to [email protected]
Cuts and culture wars
Schools face devastating cuts that will wreck education for students and make many subjects the preserve of private schools.
That’s the conclusion from a series of reports by heads unions this week.
The NAHT heads’ union, whose ballot on action on pay and funding got underway last week, says that 66 percent of schools are looking at cutting support staff jobs and 50 percent at cutting teaching jobs in response to the funding crisis.
The unions, including the NEU, relaunched the school cuts website this week – and it shows that 90 percent of schools will be worse off in per pupil spending next year than this.
And the ASCL heads union , which is also surveying members on action, says that the cuts mean that many subjects could be cut – hitting students educational entitlement.
ASCL reports that subjects such as drama, arts French, German and design and technology face being cut back or even axed altogether in many schools due to the funding crisis, leaving these vital and culturally important subjects the preserve of elite private schools.
That’s why the NEU demand for a fully funded pay rise is so vital.
We are fighting not just for the pay we deserve- but for the funding to ensure we can provide the kind of education students everywhere need.
Organise NEU Left meeting in your area
NEU Left supporters in every area must organise a local meeting this term. Invite strikers form other unions and use the meeting to build the NEU Left and build the turn out in the pay ballot.
The meeting in each executive district also needs to decide on NEU Left candidates for the elections to the NEU executive. This is a simple matter of democracy- no-one should stand as an “NEU Left” candidate unless that has been agreed by a meeting of members in that district.
The executive elections will be next spring, but nominations will take place at district meetings in January and February so local NEU Left groups need to decide on candidates before Xmas.
The executive elections will follow the election for a new general secretary early next year. The NEU Left and many others are backing Daniel Kebede in that vote. Daniel is doing well in getting district nominations- but everywhere that hasn’t yet nominated should look to do that as soon as possible.
And then we need to be ready to fight for Daniel in the general secretary election and deliver a massive vote to beat his rival, current deputy general secretary Niamh Sweeney.