From Socialist Worker, 20 November 1969. [1*]
Reprinted in In the Heat of the Struggle: 25 Years of Socialist Worker, Socialist Worker/Bookmarks, London 1993, p.40.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
THURSDAY’S STRIKE by London teachers will close practically all the capital’s schools apart from a small number of grammar schools. The National Union of Teachers, with some 12,000 members in the area and the National Association of Schoolmasters with about 2,000, are both backing the strike officially.
It will be the biggest of the token strikes by teachers to take place this month. The executives of both unions are preparing to call out selected schools in various pain of the country for 14 days from 1 December.
The grass-roots pressure that has driven the usually ultra-cautious executive of the NUT into such an apparently militant position is due to the absolute decline in the real value of teachers’ pay. Teachers today are substantially worse off, in real terms, than they were two and a half years ago.
Everyone who has been active in the union over the years recognises that there has been a radical transformation in the consciousness of the ranks. This time there is a hard core of militants who have no illusions and some influence. For the first time ever there is growing unity between NUT and NAS militants at ‘shop floor’ level.
One thing is certain. The campaign has proved to teachers that militancy pays. In the spring the executive assured the membership that another penny could not be obtained from the employers. Fortunately they were voted down.
This is decisive for the long-term outcome. The illusions that were harboured by many teachers that genteel, ‘professional’ attitudes made them in some ways superior to other workers are on the way out.
This radicalisation give the promise for important successes for militants in the years ahead.
1*. The by-line was Duncan Hallas, President, Wandsworth Teachers Association.
Last updated on 8.11.2003