Article from the May 2005 edition, the Socialist
paper of the Socialist Party, the CWI in Ireland.

Education under attack!

Build for further action!

THE CUTS being carried through by the Education Boards will jeopardise children's education and will compromise their safety.

The one day strike called by the main non teaching unions (NIPSA, UNISON and T&GWU) is a big step forward but, on its own, is unlikely to be sufficient to force the government to retreat.

Following the strong position achieved by the one-day strike, the unions' campaign must be intensified and broadened. The teachers' unions did not give their members the opportunity to ballot and teachers did not take part in the 13 May action.

As the campaign continues, this situation needs to be changed. This is likely to be a long campaign and teachers should press their unions to immediately ballot so that they are a part of all further action.

All education staff need to stand together and not be taken in by the government propaganda that it is only the "bureaucracy", not front line services that are being hit. In fact, the cuts that have already been proposed will impact directly on the classroom.

Further strike days should be set and quickly implemented. The unions should also call members out for longer periods where cuts are directly implemented.

There needs to be a prolonged and sustained campaign of industrial action initially involving one day strikes with longer action where cuts are implemented. If this is not sufficient, there should be a further escalation. While no one wants to risk children's education, in the short term that will be necessary so that the future of education in Northern Ireland is properly funded.

The unions must also link with parents so that the fight is conducted throughout every part of Northern Ireland to defend jobs and services. There are approximately 300,000 children attending Northern Ireland's schools. Their families represent a huge sector of the population. If all these people where mobilised, then the government would be forced into a full-scale retreat.

How education should be run

THE CAMPAIGN to defend the education service must be linked to ensuring that it is brought under the control of those who work in it and who use it. We need democratically elected Boards, not the unelected quangos that are now meekly implementing the New Labour cuts.

Rather than being populated by politicians and middle class government nominees, elected representatives of those who work in education, of pupils and parents should have majority representation on the Boards.

Elected Boards could save money by abandoning privatisation, which as well as lowering standards is more expensive, and cancelling the exorbitant fees paid out to consultants. They could stand up to the government by refusing to implement cuts and spending the money that the government's own legislation requires to ensure a proper education service.

Better to break the budget than wreck our children's lives!

Political action needed to fight cuts

MOST OF the local councillors who have just been re-elected voted to pass these cuts onto schools. Instead of being booted out as a result of their decisions, sectarianism and lack of an alternative has ensured that they are back to vote through more cuts next year.

A successful campaign to resist the cuts must have a political edge. Appealing to the existing right wing and sectarian parties will not succeed. The unions and communities involved in the campaign should now consider preparing anti-cuts candidates for future elections.

This could be part of a broader initiative to build a new party that can represent the interests of working class people.

More articles from this issue of the Socialist are listed here.

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