NUT to seek summer term strike action over school cuts

The National Union of Teachers is taking steps towards regional strikes over school funding in the summer term, based on a pre-existing ballot of its members.

Last summer the NUT balloted members on national strike action. The validity of the ballot ends on August 31, ahead of the NUT’s merger with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

But the NUT says the ballot can still act as a legal basis for strike action this summer.

The union will now identify regions where national strike action “could be called” after its executive passed a motion at the NUT annual conference in Cardiff this morning calling for “immediate next steps” to be taken.

Kevin Courtney, the general secretary of the union, says the union will identify areas where teachers are “particularly angry” and where funding cuts are “particularly bad” for the potential strike action.

Courtney warned that if the government’s response to the recent national funding formula consultation makes the situation “even worse” in urban areas like Manchester and Birmingham, then that will “very likely” stimulate strikes in those regions.

Under union rules, the NUT could use the ballot from last year to call a national strike, but leaders are reluctant to take action on such a large scale without talking to regional branches.

A national strike lasting days or even weeks has not been ruled out, however.

“We could use it for a national strike. We would obviously want to consult members, because you don’t want to call an action that people didn’t support. But we wouldn’t have to go through a legal ballot,” Courtney said.

Delegates in Cardiff this morning argued the NUT needed to take advantage of its existing legal mechanism for industrial action. Cleo Lewis, a delegate from Lewisham, argued that “we need to use it before we lose it”.

Others also indicated an appetite for strikes lasting longer than one day. James Kerr, also from Lewisham branch, said the union could not “rely on an isolated one-day strike” and then return to “business as usual”.

Potential strike action also received the backing of the founder of the Fair Funding for All Schools parents’ campaign, Jo Yurky, who said that parents had “reached a point” where they would support action, including strikes by teachers, to ensure the issue of funding is “taken seriously”.

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