THE NUT conference has made it perfectly clear that teachers have had enough of the wage cutting and privatisation policies of the Brown government. Delegates demanded action over pay, privatisation and teachers’ workload.
The mood of the conference was reflected by the NUT President Bill Greenshields in his opening address. His message was ‘resistance’ to crushing workloads, to the dismantling of state education and privatisation through Academies, while his description of a police chief’s scheme to put all troublesome children on a DNA data base was that it contained a ‘whiff of fascism’.
Catching the mood of the conference he also called for a trade union and political offensive – that all schools must be brought into the public sector, and that the UK should emulate Cuba where class sizes are limited to 20 pupils. He added: ‘The first blow we can strike following conference is to announce a massive yes vote in our pay ballot.’
Mary Compton, from East London, spoke for all of the delegates when she moved amendment 1, that ‘welcomes the statements from the PCS general secretary that major sections of that union may also be on strike on April 24th’.
She said: ‘We don’t want a social partnership with a government that wants to privatise education and thinks class sizes of 70 are OK.’
It is already clear that on April 24th there will be a massive one-day stoppage by the NUT and that this will take place side by side with a mass action by at least a section of the PCS, another public sector union that has been hit viciously by Brown through his programme of 100,000 civil service redundancies and zero wage rises over three years.
This day of strike action must be turned into a one-day general strike by the entire public sector, since every public sector trade union faces three-year wage cutting pay deals and pensions robbery by the Brown government.
The NUT must take the initiative within the TUC to demand such an action that will signal to the government that it had better think again about its policies. However, it will not be enough to defeat the government.
The reality of the situation is that capitalism is in a very deep financial and economic crisis, which many bourgeois economists are comparing to the 1930s.
This is why, as the NUT president said, there is a ‘whiff of fascism’ in the air.
However, there is no power greater than the strength of the trade unions. What the workers need is a trade union and political leadership that is prepared to use that power to win the struggle.
In the current critical situation, production is falling but living costs are shooting up at a super inflationary rate. The government’s declared policy is to rescue the bosses and the bankers with massive injections of cash – over £100bn so far at the Northern Rock bank, and to make the working class pay for this through savage wage, job and pension cuts.
This policy is going to become much more extreme and draconian as the crisis deepens.
Therefore pressure, even a one-day public sector strike, will not deter this government from massively supporting the bosses and bankers.
This extraordinary situation needs extraordinary and decisive action by workers and their trade unions.
There has to be an indefinite general strike, in which the working class must show its determination to defend its historic gains by bringing down the Brown government and imposing through its strength a workers government that will carry out socialist policies, and smash all the privateers, by bringing in a planned socialist economy, run to satisfy people’s needs and not to make super profits for the few.
The NUT conference shows that the will to do this job of liberating humankind from capitalism is emerging.
What is required is the development of a revolutionary leadership inside the trade unions to see that this struggle is carried through to victory.
Only the Workers Revolutionary Party has been prepared, and is preparing, to carry out this struggle. Join it today.