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30 January 2008

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Teachers' union calls strike ballot on pay

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) national executive has announced a decision to ballot all its members for the first national teachers' strike for 21 years.

Linda Taaffe, NUT

This is because teachers need a pay increase at least in line with inflation. The last two years have seen teachers' pay rise less than inflation and the prospect now is for a further three years of pay cuts against a background of rising costs for basic necessities.

The government says the School Teachers Review Body's recommendation of a 2.45% increase for September 2008, followed by 2.3% in 2009 and 2010, is above inflation. But they are fiddling the figures. Real inflation is reckoned to be 4% and rising!

With no let-up in the pressures on teachers, especially our long hours, which mean some teachers are working for as little as 10 an hour, there is a mood to have a go. But a real campaign needs to be launched to get a massive 'yes' vote for action.

The ballot starts at the end of February, closing at the end of March. This period must now be used to build teachers' confidence and win over those who are unsure.

The executive has decided to change the previous policy for "discontinuous action" to a one-day strike, apparently to woo the more faint-hearted executive members.

Discontinuous action would have been a more serious national strategy. The leadership would have had the flexibility to call a one-day strike, and then further action, hopefully with other public-sector unions - a demand that the NUT put forward prominently at the TUC.

Although still possible to organise further action, it would require further ballots.

But a one-day strike would be an enormous step forward. It would rattle the government. It would bring teachers into national struggle, many for the first time.

It would be a signal to other workers, the teachers being the first of the public sector 2008 pay round. Against a background of stockmarket volatility and New Labour digging in its heels, we cannot afford NOT to have a serious fight back.

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In The Socialist 30 January 2008:

End this market madness

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Article dated 30 January 2008

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