National Union of Teachers backs ballot on strike action

National Union of Teachers backs ballot on strike action
The decision, which faced little opposition at the union’s annual conference in Brighton, means the government could now have to deal with a series of strikes on two fronts, after junior doctors announced last week a two-day strike in late April.

Teachers debated an emergency motion calling for joint action with the other major teaching unions, as well as balloting NUT members on national action as soon as possible.

If a ballot is passed by NUT members in five weeks time, any strike would probably take place in July, after A-levels and GCSE exams have been completed to avoid disruption.

The motion put to the NUT’s delegates cited a Financial Times editorial that described the white paper as “a risky experiment”, while speakers decried Nicky Morgan’s proposals – which include converting all state schools into academies, getting rid of the requirement to have parent-governors, and dramatically restructuring teacher training qualifications.National Union of Teachers backs ballot on strike action

Hazel Danson, an NUT executive member who moved the motion, described the white paper’s policies as “totalitarian” and “socially dysfunctional”.

The mood among the teachers could be seen in the large majority who voted to strengthen the original motion, passing an amendment allowing for strikes in autumn as well as summer, and called for coordinated campaigns and action with the British Medical Association.

Debs Gwynn, a delegate from Morton in Derbyshire, told delegates: “At the end of the day, if this white paper goes through and becomes law, we will have no negotiation rights, we will have no national pay and conditions agreements, we will have no local authorities.”

Instead, each school “will have to go and buy services in separately from the private sector and that is exactly what this white paper is about”.

She added: “We’ve seen the junior doctors, they’ve been out on strike, they are escalating their action because the government is not prepared to negotiate. It wants to privatise the NHS, it wants to privatise education, so it’s right that we try and coordinate our action with junior doctors,.”

Jessica Edwards, a delegate from Lambeth, claimed some headteachers in London were already secretly meeting and jockeying with each other to become chief executives of the new multi-academy trusts that will need to be formed.

“We have to send a message to those heads: don’t jump ship now, because the NUT is going to fight. And that is why we have to strike before the summer, that is why we have to make sure our fight starts now,” she said.

“We have to send a signal that we are prepared to stand up, not only for our members but for our children and for the education that they deserve.”

Alex Kenny, an NUT executive member who moved the amendment, told the conference: “If we are going to agree [on a strike ballot], it’s not going to be delivered from head office, it’s not going to be delivered on Facebook or Twitter. It’s going to be delivered in schools, by talking to members.”

The motion also calls for the NUT to approach the other teaching unions with an eye to combined action, including joint strikes, in an effort to put pressure on the government.