NUT executive vote against co-ordinated strike action

A “failed opportunity” is how a member of the National Union of Teachers’ (NUT) executive has described a decision not to take part in joint strike action next month.

Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham NUT secretary and member of the National Executive criticised colleagues for voting against joining other public sector unions, UNISON, GMB and UNITE, striking on October 14.

Unions, including the NUT, took part in co-ordinated national strikes in July to highlight concerns about their members’ pay and conditions.

Mr Powell-Davies said: “Unfortunately, by voting against participation in the action announced for October 14, the NUT has not only failed to take the opportunity to build joint action to assist our own dispute, we risk also shedding doubts amongst other trade unionists – not least support staff colleagues in schools who could be wary of taking action without teaching staff.

“While there were many genuinely-held disagreements in today’s debate, I can only conclude that today’s vote will prove to be a setback. It will confuse and surprise many both inside and outside the NUT, especially school reps and local union officers, who would have been encouraged by the prospect of building broader co-ordinated action on October 14.

We risk also shedding doubts amongst other trade unionists – not least support staff colleagues in schools

“If TUC motions about co-ordinated action are to mean anything, then certainly the NUT delegation at Congress should be lobbied hard to reconsider this decision.”

Gawain Little, Oxfordshire NUT secretary and National Executive member, voted against plans for joint action.

He said he did not feel strike action next month was at the right time for NUT members, adding: “We are in the process of launching a major consultation with our entire membership for the next stage of the campaign and have launched our education manifesto in the run up to the general election.

“I felt that now would have been the wrong time for our membership to take part in strike action. We do stand in solidarity with our colleagues from UNITE, GMB and Unison.

“We have to look at the overall shape of the campaign and we felt it was the feeling of the vast majority, from our conversations with NUT members, not to take this action.

“We are still in a period of industrial action and we will be discussing further action in the coming months.”

In response to comments from Mr Powell-Davies the NUT General Secretary Christine Blower told Schools Week: “‎The NUT is consulting its members on taking further action if talks with the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan do not progress under our existing ballot for action.

“This will not have closed by 14 October. In the meantime we are pressing ahead with our Stand up for Education campaign.”

The campaign involves the lobbying of politicians and holding stalls across the country to raise awareness of teaching hours, pay and working conditions.

Mr Powell-Davies wrote on his blog on Friday that just 12 members voted in favour of joint action out of 38.