NEU Left Bulletin 12-03-23

Strikers from Tower Hamlets and Hackney rallied outside Hackney town hall in east London on 2nd March

After regional strikes….

Build 15 March Budget Day protest

Our second round of strikes saw schools shut, picket lines and protests in every region of England and in Wales (see picture round up below).

Now we have to turn up the heat on the government by building this week’s  national demonstration in London on 15 March, Budget Day.

Chancellor Hunt will tell parliament a pack of lies that day- claiming he can’t afford to meet our, and other workers’, pay claim.

Those claims are hardly radical. Just the simple demand that pay rises by at least inflation this year and that it is fully funded. In short don’t cut our living standards any further and don’t cut school budgets in real terms.

The government can pay.

The government and its Office for Budget Responsibility told us in November that the borrowing it had to do meant it had no money to pay us or other workers more.

Yet official figures last week from the Office for National Statistics showed that in fact the government now has a staggering £30 billion more than it said it would have back in November. This is mainly down to bigger tax receipts than it expected.

To settle our claim in full would cost it around £1 billion- leaving plenty to pay other workers fighting to protect living standards too.

Civil servants will be out with us this week, as will university lecturers, junior doctors, tube and rail workers and more. The government has the money to pay all of us.

And if they needed more money they could tax the soaring profits of the big energy and finance firms- and the obscene bonuses they are handing out to shareholders and bosses.

Oil giant BP has announced £23 billion profits for the last year- and handed out over £9 billion to shareholders. Shell grabbed £32 billion profits and its shareholders trousered over £6 billion in dividends. British Gas trebled its profits to £3.3 billion too.

Not to be outdone the big five banks have just announced a staggering £37.4 billion in profits. Bosses at Barclays grabbed themselves £1.8 billion in bonuses.

The money is there – it’s a straight choice between whether it goes to profits and bonuses or our pay and public services.

That’s why we have to mobilise, strike and demonstrate to win this fight. The coordinated strikes this week should be followed by more hard hitting action where unions strike together to win.

Strikes are working

Strikes are starting to work.  

In Wales the government offered an extra 3% this year and a rise 5% from next September- with funding. 

It’s not enough to meet our claim, but significant movement as a result of our strikes. Members in Wales are being asked if that is enough or not.

In Scotland our sister union the EIS has now settled after an improved pay offer, again one that represents significant movement and with extra funding- though still below the union’s claim.

In both cases the gains are far greater than the cost of the strikes to members so far.

Escalate to win

In England so far the government and education secretary Keegan has only made vague noises about talks- with nothing concrete. 

That’s why we need to step up the pressure- build next week’s strikes and build the strike committees that are emerging in many districts and are drawing more activists into shaping and organising the fight.

And within all that we need to start the debate about what happens next if the government still doesn’t move enough.

The NEU Left thinks that in this case we need to escalate the strikes after Easter and hit the government even harder.

We need to start now discussing in schools, in trike committees and at every level of the union exactly what form that escalation should take if it proves necessary to shift the Westminster government.

Stand up to Racism

Solidarity with NewVic strike

NEU members at Newvic were on strike again last Thursday in the first of 5 days of strikes over unacceptable management practices. Staff have been campaigning against the deterioration of conditions and a bullying and intimidating management for over 18 months now. They took action against proposed academisation last year and won.

Despite this victory staff have seen college conditions worsen with new contracts for new staff imposed without consultation, the asset stripping of services such as security and college administration, a carousel of interims and consultants, sudden departures of key staff, poor resourcing of curriculum and poor management of exams.

The NEU has appealed to both management and governors to no avail and has now organised strike action. The battle at Newvic is a key fight in the post-16 sector and education as a whole. The management models applied at Newvic must be resisted as they pose a threat to the continued success of the college and the needs of the community in east London.

Please send messages of solidarity to NEU Rep Rob Behan: [email protected]

Huge protests rock France

Some 700,000 protesters marched through Paris last week as the battle over pensions reached new heights. Some 3.5 million joined protests across the country. As France 24 reported: ““People from all sectors and generations have turned out. People coming from the education sector, from the pharmaceutical sector, from the metal industry and also from the aeronautics sector”. Now the movement is gaining new power from a wave of crucial strikes and more protests are planned. Ramping up the strikes now can ensure a victory like that which blocked a previous assault on welfare from a French Tory government in 1995.

Vote Daniel Kebede for NEU General Secretary

Daniel Kebede speaking at the Leeds strike rally last week. Voting continues in the general secretary election until 31 March. Keep pushing for every vote to ensure a victory for Daniel and for the kind of fighting union we need.

Give Us Back Our Schools campaign

At the 2022 Annual Conference NEU passed a motion is support of the Give Us Back Our Schools (GUBOS) campaign.

In 2020 the Socialist Educational Association (SEA) launched the Give Us Back Our Schools (GUBOS) campaign because progressive reform cannot be achieved in education without reversing the structural changes made since 1988 and implementing a programme of democratisation across schools, colleges, universities, central service providers and local authorities.  GUBOS is working to push the Labour Party and NEU (and other unions) to prioritise this campaign.  

Pass this model motion to back the campaign.

Strike picture round up

West Midlands strikers rally
Cardiff strike rally
Pickets in North Somerset
Oxfordshire pickets
Lambeth rally south London
Pickets at Talbot school, Sheffield
On the picket line in Derbyshire
Hellesodn school pickets, Norwich
Leeds strike rally
Haringey pickets, north London
Richmond rally, south west London
Ealing rally, west London
Pickets at St Botolph’s Wakefield
Marching in Tower Hamlets, east London
Rally in Redbridge, east London
Waltham Forest rally, north east London
Lewisham rally, south London
Croydon. south London
Swindon strikers
Brit School in Croydon
Chelwood nursery Lewisham

Join the NEU Left