Action in the autumn

Submitted by AWL on 16 May, 2008 - 1:09 Author: Patrick Murphy

The National Union of Teachers Executive met on 8 May for the first time since the 24 April pay strike. For a while it looked like there would be no discussion or vote on proposals to develop the pay campaign. Although the union’s Co-ordination and Finance Committee (CFC) had met the previous day and agreed some activities for the term ahead their report will not be discussed until the next Executive meeting two weeks later. In the event supporters of the left caucus on the Executive put a motion on pay to ensure that some commitments were made.

The motion, unanimously carried, agreed:

1. to reaffirm its commitment to the decision of annual conference to ballot members for discontinuous action

2. to discuss timescales for a ballot and also forms of strike and non strike action at its next meeting in two weeks time.

3. to seek a meeting with Govt to put forward our demands on pay and on workload.

4. to congratulate divisional and association secretaries for the work done so far and encourage them to work for the petition (deadline 23 May) and the lobby of Parliament on 9 June .

There will be a Divisional Secretaries briefing in June. The original intention was that this meeting would “consult” secretaries on the campaign, including future strike action. A number of us argued, however, that the Executive should give a lead and present firm proposals, including a ballot timetable.

The most positive aspect of the motion carried at the Executive is the decision to bring a timetable for a discontinuous action ballot to the next Executive on 22 May. The fact that this discussion wasn’t started immediately makes it very unlikely, however, that there will be further action during this school term. The earliest likely NUT ballot timetable will now see members asked to vote in the first half of the Autumn term with action to start in November.

The only that could change this would be a decision by Unison to take their local government members into pay action this term. A significant number of local government workers are employed as support staff in schools. A Unison consultation of members which ended on 12 May saw their below-inflation award rejected by two votes to one. It’s rumoured that the union’s leadership has decided to ballot members for strike action from 26 May with the first action to take place on 8 July. If this is true and the plan is serious there is still time for the 22 May NUT Executive meeting to co-ordinate our next ballot so that we can take joint action on that day. This would make July an even bigger and more effective version of 24 April.

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