The National Education Union (NEU) is calling for a 5% pay increase for school staff. They are talking of strike action as well. Of course our pay demand is for 5%, albeit with an underpin of £1,200. Leaving aside that both pay claims don’t make much sense (in PCS, if we won 5% then pay would become more unequal as each department is on different pay rates.), it is clear that we should band together, if we can, with the NEU.
Indeed in many ways they are the perfect match for us. If they take action and close schools then a lot of civil servants have to stay home and look after the kids. Of course in HQs, scabs can work from home but operational staff can’t. Therefore whether we strike at the same time, or after their days of action, we can make our action more effective.
Of course we have had national ‘alliances’ with teachers’ unions before. We discovered that the leadership of those unions soon ditched us when it suited them, so whilst working together, we must plan to take action on our own if need be.
Where we can, we should also be working with NEU on the ground and through rank and file teacher groups, so as to head off the possibility of a sell out (we could also sell them out as well – as we did with the 2005 pension dispute).
If we were in the leadership of PCS, we would put as much effort into on-the-ground working and linking up with the rank and file, as we would with talking to the union tops. That is a key difference between us and the current PCS leadership. If you think that is the way our union should operate then vote for us in the NEC elections.