The NUT National Executive voted yesterday to confirm plans to ballot members to oppose the government’s planned pay limit for public sector workers. These plans will see the union ballot members in schools from 10 December 10 until January 8th with an initial strike day set for January 30.
The Secretary of State for Education is due to receive the report from the teachers’ pay review body on the settlement for 2008-11 on 26 October, and usually responds within weeks. The union leadership was keen to delay any ballot until the award for 2008-11 was known to members.
I proposed (and Alex Kenny from East London seconded) an amendment to the timetable to enable us to open our ballot on 29 October, close it on 19 November and take action in the week beginning 26 November. This would mean that we could co-ordinate action with Unison local government members who are due to strike on 14-15 November over the same general issue. Their potential action is very important to teachers as they represent tens of thousands of school support staff.
The civil service union, PCS, is also planning action alongside Unison. We would not have been able to strike on the same day but we would have been able to be part of a joint period of industrial action against the pay freeze which would maximise pressure on the government and public and media attention on what the issue.
The proposal to go for an earlier ballot was defeated by 21 votes to 15 with 4 abstentions.
It was nevertheless worth putting to the Executive because (a) it was a better timetable for co-ordinated action (b) it encouraged people opposed to it to commit more clearly to balloting and action on their own timetable and (c) it increased the pressure on the union to produce effective material to build support amongst members for action on pay.
Now we unite around the campaign to get a yes vote and a decent turnout in the ballot later this term.