Striking teachers on the march in London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Teachers are organising to reject the Tory pay insult of 6.5 percent—and demand union leaders call more strikes to win an inflation-busting pay rise. It comes after the Tory government and school workers’ union leaders issued a joint statement in support of the pay offer on Thursday. 

The NEU union—which has staged a series of successful strikes over pay—has stopped industrial action and is recommending teachers accept the offer. Jon Reddiford, an NEU national executive member and teacher, told Socialist Worker, “The joint NEU general secretaries said that this was the best offer we could get.”

But Jon said “lots are angry about it” on teachers’ WhatsApp groups. “There is a big reject zoom meeting at 7pm on Monday called by Educators Say No,” he said. “There was a motion at the executive meeting to recommend a rejection but it fell by about two thirds against,” he said.

Supporters of Socialist Worker on the NEU national executive committee voted for rejection.

NEU executive member Debs Gwynn urged teachers to reject the offer and fight for more. She told Socialist Worker, “The offer is short of what we were asking. It is not inflation proof, it does not redress the real term losses we have suffered over the past 13 years and it does not address the chronic funding and staffing crisis in our schools.” 

Other than being too low, and a real terms pay cut, the government’s offer isn’t fully funded. The government is set to offer £900 million in additional funding annually for all schools in England—that amounts to just 3 percent.

The further 3.5 percent will come from already stretched school budgets. This will be catastrophic for many school budgets that already struggle to equip students with adequate materials. 

Shockingly, Sunak has said public sector pay deals will be funded partly by migrants paying more for work visas. All unions have to stand against this racist divide and rule. 

Teachers now have from Tuesday of next week to 28 July to vote in an online poll whether to accept or reject the union leaders’ and Tories’ proposal. 

Rishi Sunak said, “Today’s offer is final. There will be no more talks on pay. No amount of strikes will change this decision.”

But strikes have forced Sunak to make the new offer. He has promised pay offers of around 6 percent to public sector workers in the hope of settling the disputes. He has a weak and divided government that faces defeats in by-elections. Now is the time to escalate.

The Tories are clearly worried by the teachers strength, especially as 122,000 members of the NASUWT union voted to strike this week. Strike ballots by the NAHT and ASCL unions are ongoing. And the BMA junior doctors’ union has dismissed the Tory 6 percent offer—and is keeping up its five-day strike. 

The potential still exists for a much higher level of resistance—and successes could transform the balance of class forces. Teachers have to challenge their union leaders and strike to win. 

Educators Say No online meeting Monday,  17 July, 7pm. https://neu-org-uk.zoom.us/j/96699087999?pwd=M0pTS0hkMDd0Z2R1NVBZaU9wN2gyQT09 Meeting ID: 966 9908 7999 | Passcode: 014322

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