On January 29, National Union of Teachers (NUT) National Executive voted 24 to 12 not to call two days of strike action in the run up to the General Election.
In October a survey of members returned 80% in favour of strikes. This despite the failure of the NUT to develop a serious strategy to wring concessions from the Government over pensions, and then pay, since 2011.
At the January Executive we were informed that we could not restate our intention to strike before Nicky Morgan had announced the results of the “workload challenge” consultation. Nicky Morgan, quite predictably, has offered nothing, so we are left with an incredibly tight time frame to organise any action before the General Election.
At the NUT branch secretaries’ briefing on February 10 we were told that there would be only four weeks following the National Executive meeting on February 26 to organise strikes before the General Election campaign begins. Considering that the Executive of January 29 defeated a proposal to “develop plans for up to two days strike action” before the election largely on the grounds that we could decide this matter on February 26, one wonders at the logic of delaying the decision in January when there were still nine weeks to prepare and mobilise for strikes.
This illustrates the experience of the last four years in a shorter form, an experience in which prevarication about serious industrial action has led to huge reductions in teachers’ pay and pension and an escalation of workload.
A debate will take place at the 26 February NEC and we should still argue for the strikes voted on by the members.
The alternative amounts to waiting for the outcome of the General Election and chancing our luck on the incoming Government, living in hope that it will not be the Tories. That is simply not a serious trade union response.