The strike was the first of a series of regional days of action called jointly by the two main teaching unions, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT). Similar rallies were held in Liverpool, Preston and Chester. The action affected 3,000 schools.
The rally was held in an 800-seat conference room, leaving the majority of the demonstrators outside. Those who managed to gain entrance and were able to listen to the contributions, over the din created by whistles and plastic hand clapping devices, would have found nothing of substance from either of the two main speakers, Christine Blower of the NUT and Trades Union Congress (TUC) Public Services representative and Labour Party member Kevin Rowan.
However, all that was offered up was an appeal to attend a protest outside the ruling Conservative Party conference, to be held in Manchester in September, to tell the Tories what they are doing is “unacceptable.”
Like the rest of the public sector, teachers already face having to work longer and pay more towards an inferior pension. Education Secretary Michael Gove is also proposing to shorten school holidays, lengthen the school day and abolish planning and preparation time, conditions which are already in place in the government’s flagship Academy schools, along with performance-related pay.
Teachers will face yet another new initiative come the autumn term with a revised national curriculum, something that they have yet again not been consulted on.
Teachers have shown time and again their readiness to take action to oppose the government’s attacks. Joint action by 20 different public sector unions on November 30, 2011 brought 2.5 million workers out on strike to oppose the attacks on pensions. This opposition was then wound down and sabotaged by the trade unions, with each union making separate agreements with the government.
Encouraged by the role of the trade unions in the pensions struggle, the government is steaming ahead with the changes it wishes to implement.
Indispensable in this are the two main teaching unions. The fraudulent claim that the unions are waging a fight is belied by their stance on the introduction of performance pay.