Socialist Party leafleted distributed to striking education workers 15th June 2005

Support the Classroom Assistants

Classroom Assistants have been left with no option but to take strike action. Management are attempting to alter the terms of the job evaluation exercise to make sure that it is as detrimental as possible to classroom assistants.

This is not so much a job evaluation as a cost cutting exercise dictated by the government imposed cuts in education budgets. All that classroom assistants are demanding is a fair wage for the responsible job they do.

This one day strike will fire a warning shot across the bows of the management and the government. But, unless management give way it will need to be followed up with further action.

Notice should be given that there will be follow up strike days in the autumn leading to all out action if necessary. The government and the Boards are clearly shaken by the scale of the opposition to the cuts. With a campaign of determined and escalating action the classroom assistants can win.

All out against the cuts - no retreat!

The issue of classroom assistant grading and pay is inextricably linked to the vicious cuts now being implemented by the Boards. These cuts have provoked massive opposition, not just among education workers, but among the wider community. If this opposition can be harnessed into an effective campaign the cuts can be completely reversed.

The one day strike on 13 May was a magnificent start. It showed the power the education unions have when they stand together. It would have been even stronger if the teacher's unions had joined in.

This action and the threat of Friday's follow up strike have had an effect on the government. New Labour's new Education Minister, Angela Smith, has come up with some money to offset some of the cuts in order to stop the strike action going ahead.

The package she is offering needs to be evaluated. But if it is not a complete reversal of the cuts, the action on Friday and subsequent action should go ahead.

The fact that the government has retreated should not be a signal for the unions to retreat also. Rather it should be an encouragement to us to step up the pressure to force them to withdraw all the proposed cuts and provide adequate finance for education.

Angela Smith needs to know that if she does not give way she will face an ongoing campaign that will include further strike days that will involve all the unions. We cannot leave the organisation and control of this totally in the hands of the union leaderships who have so far failed to agree co-ordinated action.

Joint union committees need to be set up in every school and education workplace to make sure that future action involves all education workers.

We need our own party

It has been the determined opposition of education workers, backed by people in working class communities, that has forced Angela Smith to negotiate. In the ongoing struggle education workers cannot rely on the local politicians to assist. All the main parties here are actually committed to cuts. All support the PPP and PFI privatisation schemes that cost money and are really a way of both cutting services as well as the pay and conditions of staff.

We need a new party that represents the united interests of trade unionists and other working class people. The Socialist Party stands for the building of a new trade union based party that would fight for a socialist education system, with Boards that are democratically elected, with a majority made up of representatives of education workers, trade unionists and working class communities.

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