Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Teachers and public sector workers strike!

[First published in the socialist, by Phil Clarke, Secretary Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NUT (personal capacity)]

Across Sussex on 24th April teachers headed to the coast to join up with other public sector workers in the UCU and PCS union to support the strike. There were packed meetings in Brighton, Eastbourne and Worthing as schools across the area closed for the day. In Brighton, despite the rain, so many turned out for the march they had to turn people away from the rally because the venue staff told the NUT organisers "you just can’t fit any more people in"!

The Eastbourne rally saw speakers from the NUT, PCS, UCU explaining why they had taken action and were joined by officers from Lewes Prison who are looking to re-create their highly successful strike in the near future. The debate from the floor brought up many questions, amongst them workers asking why the unions still fund the Labour Party. In fact it is no co-incidence that none of the unions on the platform do give money to Labour, but are willing to stand up for their members pay!

In Brighton a huge a round of applause went to a UCU speaker who pointed out that if a handful of New Labour MPs can send Gordon Brown into reverse over the 10p rate cut, then imagine what hundreds of thousands of public sector workers can do.

The big question however was ‘what next?’ It is vital the NUT build on this strike and see it as the beginning of a campaign. Writing to MPs is not enough. We must ballot for another day's strike as soon as possible and, most importantly, build links with other unions so that there can be a real opportunity for all public sector workers to reveal their anger. There was no doubt that the call for a 24 hour public sector strike went down well. It is now our job to build it, and force the government to value us.