Strikes show our power.
Now let’s use it to win.
What a day! The 1 February strike was simply an inspiring, magnificent show of solidarity and rebellion, showing members’ determination to fight for better pay and funding for education.
Of course there are many discussions and much organisation to come now, to build on this first step and ensure we win. The key next step is for every district to throw itself into preparing for the regional strikes in a few weeks’ time, and then for the 2 day budget day strike with the national demo in London on 15th March when we will march on the chancellor as he speaks.
If anyone doubted the money was there this week’s announcement of record £30 billion plus profits by oil giant Shell and the 16.5 percent rise in share dividend pay outs by UK companies underlined the key fact- the money is there in the pockets of the rich and big business. We have to force the government to take it from there and put it into education, health, transport and more.
The UCU university lecturers’, PCS civil servants’ and the ALSEF and RMT rail unions also were out on strike last Wednesday. That unity was brilliant- but it could and should have been more unions out. On 15 March budget day every union that can should be out with us and marching on Westminster.
If that doesn’t crack the government we will then face a stark and simple choice. Either we stop- and won’t have won anything. That’s not a good choice. Or we win members to the need to escalate the action to more hard hitting strikes- a difficult choice for sure, and one that won’t be easy, but one that will then be the only way to win- and win we must for our sakes and the future of education.
NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney has called for every district to throw open ownership of the battle by launching strike committees- with activists and reps from every school coming together to discuss, build and shape the fight. That needs to happen everywhere in the next weeks.
That can ensure the regional strikes and rallies coming up, and the campaign to drive our fight into local communities to win them and parents to actively back our fight, are carried through.
Wednesday was a glimpse of what we can achieve when we fight. The famous words of the poet Shelley summed up the feeling of the day:
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number–
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you–
Ye are many — they are few.
Let’s not go back to sleep and allow the chains that every day crush what education could and should be about to be rebound. Let’s push on, organise and win. Many thanks to all those who sent in pictures- the selection below we hope gives a flavour of the day- and apologies if we accidentally omitted anywhere that sent one in. As the song from the London stage that closed Wednesday’s rally says :
When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun
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