Thursday, 22 May 2014

NUT pushes back strike date

The National Union of Teachers has withdrawn its' threat to strike next month. In a statement to the media Christine Blower, the NUT General Secretary stated:

“As a result of pressure from the NUT, ministers have finally turned up to the joint union talks. David Laws was at the last meeting and Michael Gove will attend a future meeting.

“In order to assess whether we can make real progress on the matters of most concern to teachers the NUT has decided not to call the strike planned for the week of 23rd June. This gives the Government several more weeks to demonstrate good faith in the talks. The NUT’s National Executive will discuss the talks process again when they next meet on 19th June.

However the National Executive Committee has taken a decision to set July 10th as a possible alternative if further talks fail to achieve any movement. Ms Blower ended her press statement with the following warning:

The lobby of Parliament on 10th June will send a clear message to Government that teachers will not be silenced. If we make no significant progress in talks the strike action on the 10th July will be solely their responsibility.”

The other unions planning to take part in the action include Unite, Unison the GMB and depending on a ballot outcome my own union PCS, which voted for a ballot earlier this week.

The action on July 10th has been initiated by the far left organised in the so-called "Peoples Assembly" by former SWP leader John Rees now in the tiny Counterfire organisation. The proposed action is a watered down version of the shrill calls for a General Strike constantly pushed for by the Socialist Party and the SWP.

Members of the NUT may wish to heed the words of Ian Grayson of the moderate Broadly Speaking group:

We implacably oppose political factions using our union for their own political purposes.

We believe that this stance represent the views of the majority of NUT members: the sometimes silent majority which believes in NUT values, but is dismayed that politically motivated people, many from extreme left wing organisations, seek to control our union. We want to work with you to ensure coherent, sensible and achievable policies and strategies are pursued for the benefit of teachers, pupils and education.

Industrial action has a place within the Union’s armoury, but we oppose calls for perpetual industrial action, which unfortunately dominate the agenda at our Annual Conferences year after year. Calling for action on every issue – as so often happens – is never going to command real support across the Union, and is so often merely a gesture – a substitute for real thought about how best to further our causes.

The NUT had similar problems to PCS in finding it difficult to sustain industrial action during the pensions dispute. The action planned for July 10th remains a top down plan of action which could play into the hands of the Tory Government if support from actual members does not materialise.

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