20 February 2014
This was due to be a joint strike with the NASUWT. A joint strike was promised in Dec 2013 and then by Feb 2013, but the NUT decided to go ahead with a strike without the NASUWT if necessary. The NASUWT announced recently that they will not be striking alongside us. This is a wasted opportunity. Gove is weak and is deeply unpopular. Now is the time when teachers should have united in strike action that could really have forced the government to change policy on performance related pay. The regional strikes were hugely successful and boosted the confidence of teachers that we can win.
The school teachers review body (STRB) recently rejected Gove’s proposals to remove teachers’ right to have time out of class for preparation and rejected the call to lengthen the school day and shorten holidays. This is a sign that the unions’ threat of action has influence. We should have taken that opportunity to bring Gove to the table for talks about pay and pensions. The fact that we have retained our conditions is not enough for the vast majority of teacher. There is a crisis in teacher morale as the threat of Ofsted and the worry about reaching targets, ticking boxes and processing data are overwhelming the day-to-day joy of being in the classroom. Teachers are desperate for an end to this treadmill and see strike action against the government as an effective way of fighting back.
NUT members are hoping that NASUWT members will pressure their own leaders to change their decision and join with us on strike. We also hope that other public sector unions will call for action and regain some of the momentum we have seen over the last 3 years when we have taken joint action. There has been action on the tubes, action by UCU members and by ambulance workers. We hope that other unions will put out a call for action alongside teachers. That sort of unity is what we need to confront the austerity agenda.
We ask that people go to their local schools and offer support for the strike, support picket lines and invite teachers to speak to other trade unions about their dispute. We also hope that our strike will be the first of an escalating programme which can turn the anger against Gove and his vision for education into a force to win back national pay bargaining and an end to payment by results.