Teachers Say "We Won't Pay!"

September 22, 2023

Earlier this week, Birmingham District of the National Education Union, representing teachers and teaching assistants across Birmingham schools, discussed how they can defend working conditions and public services in light of the council declaring effective bankruptcy. The below motion was passed overwhelmingly:

Birmingham NEU notes that:

  • Birmingham city council says it is “effectively bankrupt” and has issued a Section 114 notice halting all ‘none-essential’ expenditure.
  • There have been sharp cuts to council funding from Westminster since the austerity drive in 2010, with total council funding across England cut in real terms by more than 50% over the decade to 2020. The Local Government Association estimates English councils face a funding gap of almost £3bn over the next two years just to keep services standing still.
  • Birmingham Council has had its funding from Government cut by £1billion since 2010.
  • Birmingham Council still had £668.4m in reserves as of March this year, and extensive borrowing powers that could be used to buy time while fighting for the funding our city needs.

Birmingham NEU believes that:

  • There should be no attempts to make our members and other workers in Birmingham pay for this crisis.
  • There should be no attempts to divide the Council’s workforce, by ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’. All should get equal pay for equal work, and a decent pay rise.
  • We need a mass campaign involving unions and community organisations to fight back against cuts to frontline services, to pay all workers fairly, and to stop our city being run by unelected commissioners.

Birmingham NEU agrees

  • To call on Birmingham Labour council to refuse to make cuts to services, and instead to use its reserves and borrowing powers, and mount a campaign with the trade unions and community for the funding necessary.
  • To demand that Keir Starmer immediately pledges that an incoming Labour government will underwrite any borrowing necessary by Birmingham Council so that there are no further cuts to jobs and services.
  • To continue working with BTUC and sister trade unions to oppose any cuts to jobs and services.

This motion shows the fighting approach by council unions needed to stop our public services and working class communities paying the price for Blairite and Tory austerity with further cuts and privatisation.

We invite everyone who wants to discuss what this would look like to come to our public meeting next month, featuring socialist former MP Dave Nellist and local trade union activists:

7:30pm, Monday 2nd October

Top floor, The Wellington

Bennetts Hill

Birmingham City Centre

B2 5SN

Written by workers for workers.

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