In Solidarity Bulletin

NASUWT In Solidarity logo

Global Action Day for the Right to Strike – 18 February 2015

Dear Colleagues,

ITUC CSI IGB LogoThe International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Workers’ Group at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have called for support for a Day of Action on 18 February to defend the right to strike. Education International (EI) is supporting this event and has called on education unions around the world to offer their support.

The Day of Action has been called because of major concerns that the right to strike is now under threat.

As a result of the work of the Workers’ Group at the ILO and support from many governments, the right to strike is seen as a fundamental cornerstone of democracy and social justice which has been recognized internationally for over 50 years. Many countries have incorporated the right in their national constitutions, although governments often prohibit public servants from exercising it.

The ILO standards are crucially important, being used in national courts, as well as in codes of conduct on business and human rights.

In recent months, however, the employers’ representatives at the ILO have been challenging the very legal foundation of the right to strike and its transposition into national law. In recent weeks, David Cameron has indicated that if a Conservative government is elected on May 7th, further anti-trade union reforms will be enacted to curtail the right of workers to take industrial action.

The Employers’ Group appears to be working to find ways to eliminate the right to strike altogether and to prevent national courts from using the ILO standards in the matter to rule on the legality of industrial actions. This is at the same time that social protests are being increasingly criminalized in a number of countries where workers are already suffering from austerity measures imposed by the government.

Consequently, an ILO tripartite meeting on 23-25 February will discuss the right to strike and report to the ILO Governing Body in March 2015. If no tripartite consensus can be reached on how to interpret Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, which covers the right to strike, the Workers’ Group will recommend that the dispute be referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as foreseen by the ILO Constitution. The Employers’ Group will oppose the referral, while many governments still seem undecided.

In preparation for this meeting, the ITUC has called a Global Day of Action on 18 February, whereby national trade union centres will be mobilised to lobby national governments on this issue, particularly those with a representative on the ILO Governing Body this includes the United Kingdom.

The message is simple and focused: if no consensus can be reached on recognition of the right to strike by all three groups (workers, employers and governments) in the ILO Governing Body, there must be a recommendation to refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice.

The ITUC, the Workers’ Group of the ILO and Education International therefore ask that messages in support of this simple message are tweeted, shared and sent to elected representatives, on 18 February, making it clear that this recommendation is made where there is no consensus.

The NASUWT is asking members to use social media to share this message to ensure that the appropriate pressure is placed upon all members of the Governing Body to ensure that the right to strike remains a right.

What you can do:

  1. Tweet messages of support and retweet messages as appropriate on 18 February. Hashtags will be publicised nearer the time.
  2. Share information on social media.
  3. Contact your MP or MEP using our simple, easy to use resource.
  4. Find out more at www.nasuwt.org.uk/ILORightToStrike

Best wishes

Dr Patrick Roach
Deputy General Secretary

HOMOPHOBIA STILL BLIGHTING LIVES OF TEACHERS AND PUPILS

Over half of teachers have experienced some form of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia during their teaching career, a conference organised by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has heard.

Less than half of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) teachers at the NASUWT’s LGBT Teachers’ Consultation Conference today (Saturday) in Birmingham said their school takes the issue of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia against either teachers or pupils seriously.

A real-time electronic poll of members attending the Conference found that:

  • Over half (56%) said they had experienced homophobia, bi phobia and transphobia during their teaching career;
  • Nearly half (44%) have experienced the word gay being used in a derogatory or offensive manner in schools;
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) have had to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity at school;
  • More than one in ten (12%) have experienced homophobic, biphobic or transphobic verbal abuse at school;
  • Only a third said that they believe teachers can be out and safe in schools;
  • Less than half said that their school takes the issue of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia against pupils or teachers seriously;
  • More training for school staff on tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in schools would make the biggest difference in tackling the problem;
  • 95% said the Coalition Government’s decision not to equalise pension survivor benefits to civil partners or same sex couples on cost grounds is unjustified;
  • Less than a quarter said the Coalition Government’s record on advancing LGBT equality was good or very good.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, who addressed the Conference, said:

“It is scandalous that in the 21st century teachers are still reporting that homophobia is still an issue for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pupils and staff and that many LGBT teachers do not feel safe in their schools .

“Despite assertions to the contrary, the Coalition Government has rolled back the progress made over decades on equality and we see the adverse impact this is having on teachers and pupils in our schools.

“Post the General Election, we need a government which is committed to creating a climate in our schools where all children and young people and staff feel respected and safe."