Teachers, lectures, council workers, firefighters...

Submitted by on 13 November, 2002 - 1:44

...fight for decent pay : link the struggles!

The offensive of public sector workers continues. Tuesday 5 November will see the most co-ordinated strike action ever in the Further Education (FE) sector in England. Workers from the FE teachers' union NATFHE are demanding parity with school teachers, who currently earn on average nearly £4,000 more than their FE counterparts.

By Matt Cooper, Chair Barnet NATFHE (in a personal capacity)
In England the employers have offered a derisory 2.3%, although in Wales the Executive has promised to achieve parity by April 2004. This action follows a two-day strike in May, and if the demand is not met the union is planning to hold a recall conference in early December.

Joining NATFHE in the strike will be UNISON, representing FE support workers. Over 60% of the union's membership in FE earn less than £13,000. Even some branches of the usually strike-resistant Association of Teachers and Lecturers will be coming out.

This is just the latest in the round of the battle for decent pay in the public sector. Action is set to continue with NATFHE and Unison workers in Higher Education striking on 14 November, and London NUT and NASUWT teachers, along with other council employees, will continue their struggle over London weighting with a strike on 26 November. If the FBU do not receive their demand, it can be expected the fire-fighters will be returning to the fray.

What is key now for all public sector unions is to co-ordinate joint action. This should be done at national level, but activists at workplace, branch and regional levels should also organise local links between unions, to build up a rank and file movement for such co-ordinated action. We can send workplace delegations to picket lines or other unions' meetings, invite other unions to branch meetings and organise joint local events through trades councils or joint regional events.

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