The National Union of Teachers (NUT) Executive ignored the views of a huge majority of members (as expressed in an internal survey) and decided not to proceed with a further national strike on pensions on 28 March.
Despite a 73.4% yes to strike action, the majority on the Executive decided that there was insufficient support for continuing action. 15 NEC members pushed a vote to proceed with the action but they were opposed by 24 members, including a significant number who would regard themselves as being on the left of the union.
The NUT leadership have failed to show anything like the degree of urgency required in this dispute. Having started by announcing that the union had “reserved its position” on the pensions deal (rather than rejecting it), the NUT then went on to reject any possibility of strike action in January, February or early March despite proposals being put to the Executive and a specific proposal from the University and College Union for action on 1 March.
The idea that we would get a yes vote comparable to the 92% last year was fantasy, and no-one in the run-up to the survey ever suggested we would. Turnout is always variable across the country and was not significantly more so in this case. Not a single division or association failed to vote yes for action.
In place of national action, the NUT has decided to call on members in London to take action on 28 March with a view to rolling out action across other regions after Easter (after reviewing the London strike). This “strategy” is incoherent; how can a potential regional strike help us rebuild support for national action?
Nevertheless, it is important that the strike is supported and that members outside London who are prepared to take action work with London divisions and associates to keep up the pressure for more national action.
If that can be done the central job is to ensure that, this time, there is a strategy to win rather than the very occasional one-day protest strikes we have seen so far.