Monday, 6 February 2017

£3 Billion of Cuts to schools – A National Strike for all school staff is needed now

National Strike 

“State schools in England will have to find £3bn in savings by 2019-20, says the public spending watchdog. Schools face 8% budget cuts and about 60% of secondary schools already have deficits, warns a funding analysis from the National Audit Office (NAO).”

This statement came out 13 December 2016, since then further news of the size of devastation to school budgets has emerged.

For example School Cuts website provides estimates of the cuts facing schools, you just type in the name of your school to get the details.

£3 Billion is a lot of money. We are seeing the beginning of the attack in our own branch as redundancy consultation is beginning school by school.

Whilst locally branches can try to support our members, this is not a local issue but a national issue.

Our members in our school understandably want a national response to fight back otherwise tens of thousands of low paid workers are going to lose their jobs without a fight.

It is a sad indictment of trade union mobilisation in public services that over a million jobs have been lost to austerity without any national strike action. As someone growing up in the sixties/seventies it is inconceivable that trade unions would not have responded to such large scale redundancies in their workplaces.

I grew up with strikes taking place to defend workers, some successful and some were not but in the words of the late great Bob Crow:

“If you fight you won't always win. But if you don't fight you will always lose.”

For many UNISON local government branches school membership may represent 50% of their branch membership. It is therefore critically important that a national dispute is declared by Unison before workers lose their jobs.

Durham and Derby TAs are showing Unison members that if you show leadership and use the resources of the union you can motivate and lead a dispute effectively. The heroic Kinsley 3 cleaners are also showing what three motivated female workers can do if you organise. Instead of looking for reasons not to coordinate a national response we all need to start building and demanding enough is enough. 

Not another job to be cut,not another job to be outsourced. 

It is unsustainable to allow tens of thousands of schools workers to be sacked without a fight.

That is why I think the motion our branch passed is reasonable in the face of the brutal and demoralising attacks taking place school by school: 

Here is what we passed: 
1.    To continue supporting and encouraging all and any colleagues fighting job losses and pay cuts on a local level.
2.    To call on UNISON to seek a way of registering a lawful national dispute over the School Budget cuts and begin the mobilisation of all of our members working in schools for a strike ballot.
3.    To call on UNISON to seek urgent talks with sister unions to attempt to coordinate joint national strike action over the School Budget Cuts.

4.    To send this motion to National Local Government conference 2017.
You can read our full motion here. 

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