Schools closed across Scotland for a second day on Wednesday as tens of thousands of teachers completed a 48-hour strike.
Anne, a teacher in the EIS union from central Scotland, told Socialist Worker, “We’ve felt the warm glow of support this week. We know the strikes are inconvenient for parents and hit the children’s education. But parents were bringing us cakes and coffees on our picket line.
“And lots of people appreciate that this is about pay but it’s also about what happens in schools, retaining teachers and attracting new people into the profession. It’s about teachers and pupils being valued.
The EIS said it held “useful talks” with the government on Tuesday afternoon. But the Scottish government made no new offer. Further talks were set for Wednesday with union leaders, deputy first minister John Swinney and education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.
The EIS and Nasuwt unions have rejected the latest offer from the Scottish government and council employers of a 6 percent pay uplift for the current year and 5.5 percent in 2023-4.
They rightly point out that this is a big pay cut once inflation is taken into account.
If there isn’t a deal, the EIS says it will now go ahead with a 20-day period of rolling strikes nationwide from 13 March until 21 April, It will hit each local authority area for three days.
But the most effective action to win the unions’ claim for a 10 percent rise would be an all-out and indefinite strike.
Anne added, “The demonstration on Saturday week should be massive. It’s a chance for us all to be on the streets and show the authorities that we aren’t going away. It can also bring us together to sustain each other.”
EIS “Pay Attention” national march, Sat 11 March, Glasgow, assemble Kelvingrove Park 10.30am, march off at 11.30am and rally in Glasgow Green from 1pm. Transport https://www.eis.org.uk/pay-attention/marchrally
NEU teachers’ pickets ‘double the size’ on day two of regional strikes
Thousands of teachers in the NEU union struck across the Midlands and east of England on Wednesday in their fight for fair pay.
Hugh Stanners, a special needs school teacher in Lowestoft, Suffolk told Socialist Worker, “My school has more people on strike today than the last strike on 1 February, and our picket line is double the size.”
Teachers across England and Wales are furious that their most recent, below-inflation pay rise was funded by already stretched school budgets. Hugh adds that his school’s “budget is completely inadequate”.
“The students are almost neglected and are under-supported as a result, but this is a spur to action for people to strike,” he said. “I have heard of schools being so stretched that pupils are being taught in cupboards.
“In my school, we’ve had to close our hydrotherapy services as a result of budget cuts.”
In real terms pay has fallen 20 percent since 2010. That combined with long hours and 52 percent of staff saying their high workload is “unmanageable” most of the time is driving people away from the sector.
But these factors are increasing the will among staff to fight back. In Nottingham over 700 joined a strike rally in the city centre, and there were 500 in Cambridge and 100 in Norwich.
And hundreds marched through Birmingham chanting, “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts.” A resonating message came from one speaker who said, “If we don’t get more funding, we will strike again.”
Paula is an educator in Cambridge, she told Socialist Worker, “The rally was very good and full of anger.
“We heard teachers speak about special schools, the arts and retention—we really got to see the crisis of low funding of education. The overall mood is not to give up and to build for strikes on budget day.”
Wednesday’s regional strike follows a strike by teachers in the north of England on Tuesday and was set to be followed by one in London, Wales and southern districts on Thursday.
Hugh added that teachers are always discussing what to do next. “We are all looking to build a big effort on 15 March—Tory budget day—to join the London strike rally, we are really looking forward to it,” he said.
“Teachers are aware that they are in a direct confrontation with the government and the Tories are the enemy.”
Paula said that her district meeting saw a discussion on what to do next that resulted in an “amendment passed that called for escalation”. “We agreed that there needs to be more consecutive days of strikes going forward,” she said.
Over half a million workers set to walk out on 15 March
More workers have backed strikes on 15 March, budget day. Around 1,000 NUJ union members working for BBC Local have overwhelmingly voted in favour of strikes over the corporation’s plans to cut local radio and have called a 24-hour strike starting at 11am on 15 March. It will hit coverage of the Spring budget.
In a ballot 83 percent of NUJ members backed strikes on a 69 percent turnout.
Over 275,000 teachers in the NEU in England and Wales
Over 125,000 civil service workers in the PCS and Prospect unions
Over 40,000 junior doctors in the BMA and HCSA
Around 70,000 university workers in the UCU union
Around 12,000 London Underground workers in the Aslef and RMT unions
Plus workers at Amazon, Coventry in the GMB union, and others.