Nominations for General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) close on 30 April.
Martin Powell-Davies, secretary of Lewisham NUT, is standing as the left candidate for General Secretary, with the support of the rank-and-file activists’ network Lanac, along with Patrick Murphy (Leeds NUT secretary and an AWL member) for Deputy General Secretary.
The NUT plans a one-day national strike on 26 March, but the condition of the union’s campaign against education minister Michael Gove’s frenzy of right-wing policies underlines the need for a left challenge in the union elections and a proper debate.
The one-day national strike was first scheduled for November, then remitted to February, and now arrives in March. It is a portmanteau strike, about pay, pensions, and workload, and the union leaders anxiously stress that “Gove... can avoid this strike if he talks to us, and shows he is willing to consider compromises...” Just to consider compromises, not necessarily to make them...
Activists will make 26 March as strong and lively as possible. But the policy of one-day strikes once every year or so, pioneered by another supposedly left-wing union, PCS, is not adequate to win anything.
Powell-Davies and Murphy will take into the union elections Lanac's longstanding argument for a proper ongoing, planned calendar of action.
The old left caucuses in the union — STA and CDFU, which for some time have held a majority on the union’s Executive — are mostly backing the re-election of the present leaders, Christine Blower and Kevin Courtney. So is the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP). However, many rank-and-file activists see the need for a contest.
The GS ballot will run from 4 June to 25 June. DGS nominations close on 1 December, and the ballot runs from 5 January to 26 January 2015.
London NUT pre-strike rally: Wednesday 19 March, 5.30, NUT HQ, Mabledon Place WC1H 9BD
London strike day demonstration: Wednesday 26 March, 11.30, Duchess St, London W1A, near BBC Broadcasting House.