The National Union Of Teachers (NUT) in Cornwall organised a meeting on Thursday 19 May to discuss their ballot for strike action on the issue of pensions and possible joint activity on 30 June. The meeting was open to the other balloting unions and there were teacher members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) present.
The meeting was an opportunity for the union to argue in favour of voting 'yes' in the ballot and the overwhelming majority of the teachers in the room were in favour. The national NUT speaker said a number of things including:
1. The NUT and ATL ballots are looking 'likely' to return yes votes.
2. The ballot is for 'discontinuous action' meaning further action in the autumn is very likely.
3. Head teachers may also ballot. Although it will be too late for them to strike on the 30 June, they may join in the next wave in the autumn. Also, they are very supportive of the teachers' action and in many schools they will 'turn a blind eye', meaning there could be school closures.
4. The National Association of Schoolmaster/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) are saying they may also ballot in the autumn.
5. The TUC-sponsored discussions with the government over pensions are a 'charade'.
After the meeting he also said 'off the record' that Unison General-Secretary Dave Prentis is very angry at NUT for balloting now before the end of the talks because 'his members will be saying other public sector unions are going on strike, why aren't we?'
Ian Williams, divisional secretary for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly NUT (who spoke at a recent public meeting organised by Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance) said he has booked Lemon Quay for a rally on 30 June from 10:30am - 12:00pm. He said he expected all the other striking unions to be involved and he would welcome support from other unions or groups and they could also speak at the rally. Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance members present asked if he would be in favour of the idea of bringing people to the rally with placards saying things like 'Parents support teachers' and 'Students support lecturers' and so on and he said he would. The national NUT speaker suggested some sort of children's entertainment so parents and pupils could come along. NUT are producing a leaflet to explain the dispute to parents and they will be doing stalls in Truro a couple of Saturday's before 30 June.
This would be a great opportunity. Anti-cuts activists could organise a feeder march of service users and campaigners to the rally in Lemon Quay possibly arriving 10 or 15 mins after the trade unionists have been told to assemble as a visible demonstration of support from the public.
As previously mentioned on this blog (see here), 30 June must be seen as an opportunity for a day of resistance to the coalition government's attacks on public services bringing demonstrating protestors together with striking trade unionists to strike a blow at the heart of the government.
See also Links getting stronger as unions build for 30 June strikes