Open letter from the Civil Service Rank & File Network to workers in the education industry, following the National Union of Teachers' rejection of strike action on March 13th, calling on them to organise independently of their union bureaucrats.
As well as being published here, the following letter has also been forwarded to the Local Associations National Action Campaign, the Solidarity Federation’s Education Workers Network and various local NUT branches and contacts.
We write to you as fellow workers who share your struggle. We both face the prospect of working longer and paying more to get less, as well as job cuts, privatisation, and attacks on our pay and conditions. On 30 June and 30 November 2011, we stood together on picket lines and on marches around the country in magnificent coordinated strike action. And we have both felt immense frustration at the inaction of our respective union leaderships.
A great many civil servants shared the dismay of education workers as the National Union of Teachers narrowly voted against calling strike action on 13 March. Having seen our own union refuse to take part in the 28 March strikes last year, and follow up the strike on May 10 with eight months of inaction, we know what it is like to have those who profess to lead us twiddle their thumbs as the government declares open war on our livelihoods.
Ultimately, when it was announced that virtually all of our terms and conditions were under attack, rank-and-file civil servants took matters into their own hands. Our union, PCS, called protest action on 30 November only because of a wildcat walkout against Francis Maude in Coventry on 18 October and our decision to take part in the 14 November ETUC day of action – independent of our union leadership. It is only because the anger of those at the coal face cannot be ignored that our current ballot for national action is happening as soon as it is, and that the union is making noises about staging more than a one day protest strike.
We call on you to follow our example.
On 13 March, the day that the NUT rejected calling a strike, there will be another European day of action. The Civil Service Rank & File Network has decided to support PCS if it calls a strike on this day – and to take action independently if they do not. We urge you to join us.
If your local branch is able to call a strike on that day, great. Likewise if in your workplace the workers feel confident to walk out without a ballot and official sanction. But even where this is not possible, we would suggest that you stage protests and similar activity – to display to your employers, to the government and to your union that you will not take these attacks lying down. This can tie in with and add weight to any plans you may have to lobby your national executive.
As public sector workers, we all face the same attacks and share the same struggle. An injury to one is an injury to all. Join the day of action on 13 March, in any way that you can.
The Civil Service Rank & File Network