This is the text of a leaflet produced by supporters of Socialist Resistance in the National Union of Teachers. You can download it here.
The pensions dispute is a life or death struggle for our union. If we lose on pensions, we will find it very hard indeed (if not impossible) to mobilize the membership to resist the new floor targets, privatisation etc.
A series of one day strikes isn’t going to win this dispute, even when combined with lobbies and petitions. They’ve had several massive one day general strikes in Greece and Spain, it hasn’t halted the austerity offensive, and that’s with governments that are less blatantly anti-union than our Con-Dem coalition.
Lurching from one one-day strike to the next, especially with big gaps in between, isn’t going to work, members know it and the turnouts will eventually peak and then decline. Targeted local strikes might keep things going a bit longer, but suffer from the same problem that they demobilise the mass of members for most of the time.
We need to involve the whole membership in ongoing action. The NEC should publicly tell the government that if it doesn’t pull back from its outrageous attack on our pensions, we will begin an indefinite work to rule from 1st January 2012, with more frequent mass strikes to follow in the ensuing weeks and months.
A work to rule would give us a huge propaganda advantage with media and parents: we are still teaching kids (at least in between our strikes), but because of the attack on our pensions that’s all we’re doing. ASCL and NAHT have talked about taking action short of strike action over pensions; our leadership should talk to theirs and try to get them on board.
The biggest advantage of a work to rule is that it directly involves the membership in an ongoing, permanent mobilisation. This would give a big boost to the confidence of members. We wouldn’t have to start from scratch every time we wanted to build for a strike. And it would give the rank
and file members far more control over the action. Indeed, one of the difficulties of getting members active in the union is the sheer intensity of our workload. The pensions action is an opportunity to reduce that workload directly, as part of the action itself.
This proposal isn’t to replace the one day strikes with such action, but to add to the strikes, which would of course need to continue in coordination with the other public sector unions.
What you can do next
Pass a motion in your school NUT group, and in your local association, calling on the National Executive Committee to call (in the event of the government not withdrawing its attack on our pensions) an indefinite work to rule from 1stJanuary 2012, and to prepare for an escalation of strike action from January onwards.