At its February meeting the National Union of Teachers (NUT) National Executive definitively ruled out further national strikes between now and the election.
NEC members who support rank and file campaign LANAC proposed that the Union call a strike for March 24, but were defeated by 24 votes to 13 with 2 abstentions.
This decision effectively brings to an end the action phase of the campaign since 2010 and the mandate of the current ballot as far as national strike action goes. Local strikes and action short of strikes will continue, but after the election there will almost certainly need to be a new ballot before further national strikes.
It is undoubtedly true that it is harder now to mobilise teachers for national strikes. The fundamental reason for this is that we have been demobilised by the vacillation and indecision of the national leadership. The continuing willingness of members to support one-day strikes whenever they are asked by the Union is a testament to their resilience and anger. But no union can repeatedly turn members on and off like a tap for token one-day strikes over four years without it having an impact on their confidence and sense of direction.
• We need to reballot
• We need specific focused demands which members can see as popular and realistic. In the immediate term, key demands which could galvanise teachers are an overall limit to teachers’ working and teaching hours, a reversal of performance-related pay and a £2000 increase for all teachers.
• There must be a period of education, rebuilding confidence through winning and publicising local victories, and popularising our demands, before any ballot
• We need an organising drive across the union, but above all in academy chains and individual academies, so that we are in a fit state to deliver the kind of campaign needed to win. This should be an organising drive in the sense of a drive to level up conditions, based on clear and timely union information about the best conditions won, rather than just an effort to sign up more members and reps.
• An action strategy must be built from fresh so that demands and deliverable action are more closely matched
• The national campaign needs to include agreed instructions on specific workload pressures which will help NUT school groups win the tangible (if small) victories which rebuild confidence.
In the period ahead, including at NUT Conference, union members, school reps and activists should work with LANAC in ensuring that the future of the campaign is shaped around those key ideas.