Stand up for Palestine
On Saturday 28 October half a million people filled the streets of London and thousands more in cities across the UK and the world to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza.
This is the biggest demonstration in support of the Palestinians in UK history. This follows two huge protests on the previous Saturdays. Many NEU members were on these marches with their union banners and flags to show their solidarity.
As trade unionists and educators many of us will have watched in horror the events unfolding in Gaza and Palestine. We must condemn all attacks on civilians and we should be calling for an immediate ceasefire.
The Israeli assault on the besieged Gaza Strip over the past three weeks has seen 7,703 Palestinians killed with 66% of these being women and children. Thousands of Palestinians have been reported missing and are presumed to be trapped or dead under the rubble.
1.4 million people have been forcibly displaced, mass graves are already full, and the UN has reported that there are not enough body-bags in Gaza for the dead.
About 45% of all housing units in the Gaza strip have been destroyed or damaged since the start of the attack. Public buildings including schools, Mosques and hospitals have been targeted including the Al Ahli hospital where more than 500 Palestinians were killed.
Over 40% of Gaza’s education facilities have been hit since the start of the hostilities including 38 schools which have been destroyed or severely damaged.
Israel has sealed the Gaza Strip completely and cut off all electricity, food, water and fuel from a population of which almost half are children. Vital services, including health and sanitation are being pushed towards collapse.
Hospitals are losing power, some have already been forced to close, and clean water is running out. Since the 21st October 84 trucks carrying food, water and medical supplies have been allowed to enter through the Rafah crossing from Egypt in to Gaza however Israel has refused to allow fuel to be sent in for generators.
This is about 4% of the daily imports in to Gaza prior to the current hostilities. This is a fraction of what is needed following the 22 days of complete siege and will do little to relieve the humanitarian crisis on the ground.
On the 27th October contact with the Gaza strip was cut off following the shutdown of landlines, cellular and internet services. Fragmented information available indicates that following this Gaza was subject to the most intense Israeli airstrikes and artillery since the start of the hostilities.
These acts of collective punishment and indiscriminate killing are prohibited under international law. The Israeli government has said it plans a weeks-long brutal assault on the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million residents, including a ground invasion. Israeli politicians and military leaders are using genocidal language and threats.
Palestinians inside Israel, the West Bank and East Jerusalem face a lockdown and a growing number have been killed by settlers and military personnel. The unconditional endorsement of the actions by the Israeli government by various national governments including the United States of America and the United Kingdom render them complicit in the actions of the Netanyahu administration and culpable in the outcome.
The origins of the present bloodshed has its roots firmly in the ongoing denial of the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and statehood through the actions of successive Israeli governments including the expansion of the illegal settlements, the seizure of Palestinian land, erecting roadblocks and the Apartheid Wall.
The NEU has a proud history of standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people recognising their right to self-determination. We know that only through the achievement of the rights of the Palestinian people will a lasting peace be achieved.
We would urge all members to:
1. Contact their MPs asking them to call for an immediate ceasefire and a complete end to the attacks on the Gaza Strip and for the siege on Gaza to be lifted so that water, food, fuel, and medical supplies can reach the population
2. Ask their district to make a donation to MAP Medical Aid for Palestinians: Medical Aid for Palestinians (map.org.uk)
3. Attend PSC demonstrations taking trade union banners to show our ongoing solidarity with the Palestinian people
Prepare to Fight on Funding and Pay
This month, on 22nd November, the government will set out its spending plans for the coming year – in the autumn budget statement.
This will make clear what it plans to put into education funding and that will also shape the pay offer it plans for educators next year.
Unless there is a massive increase in school funding above current plans the crisis facing our schools will get worse.
We have already have the £370 mistake in figures announced for next financial year’s school funding. That comes on top of the RAAC concrete crisis, and the crisis of crumbling schools more generally.
SEND funding is at least £3 billion below what is needed to provide the support the most vulnerable students need.
And with inflation eating away at the real value of school funding every month- the scale of the crisis is getting worse.
If we are to see educators ‘pay begin to be restored towards the levels it was back in 2010- since when we have seen over 20% real terms cuts- a major increase in school funding is needed too.
Some London districts have called a rally on funding and pay on 22nd November- this is an excellent initiative.
And the NEU executive has agreed to decide at its next meeting on 2nd December a timetable for ballots for strike action, unless the government announces adequate funding on 22nd November.
That timetable needs to be one which build the campaign on funding and pay and gets us to the position where we can take national strike action at the earliest possible opportunity.
The key lesson of the fight on pay last year is simple- strikes work and are the only effective way to force this government to pay up.
Back Connaught Battle
NEU General Secretary Daniel Kebede on the Connaught picket line this week
NEU MEMBERS at Connaught School For Girls are currently taking on an ideologically motivated Government who plan to transfer the school to a Multi academy trust – Star academy. Part of the dispute is also to do with the increased workload for students, who will see their lessons increase to 6 per day, have 31 students per class and at same time have 100 minutes LESS contact time with educators.
Every trade unionist should stand with the Connaught strikers, who were out on strike this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Strike Map are helping support the dispute and have organised a letter you can send using this link
Send messages of support to