Education Workers

Education Workers' Industrial Union, for all workers in the education sector.

Anyone who works in or for an educational institution is an education worker in the IWW's eyes. Teachers, lecturers, trainers, classroom assistants, nursery staff, admin workers, caretakers, cleaners, porters, librarians, kitchen staff, technicians, ancillary staff, and so on. If you work in the education sector, irrespective of your job, you are an education worker.

Why an industrial union?

There's currently a plethora of trade union initials in the education sector: the NUT, NAS-UWT, UCU, Voice, PAT and ATL for teaching and lecturing staff. Then there's UNISON, T&G, GMB, and others for support and ancillary workers, and all of these trade unions operate separately and sectionally, with members of one union all too often pitted against members of another.

Added to this is the idea of 'professionalism' which falsely sees teachers and lecturers as some kind of middle class elite who are somehow separate from their fellow non-teaching workers. The worst aspects of this kind of 'professional' thinking are indicated by some of the more partnership oriented education unions.

The upshot of all this division is, it's not uncommon to see workers from one union on a one-day strike, with other workers advised by their own unions to cross picket lines because their one-day strike takes place on a different day.

This kind of 'organisation' can only be of benefit to the management, but for education workers, it is a millstone around our necks.

Another set of initials?

No, the IWW is not just another set of initials thrown into the education unions' alphabet soup. Our aim is to bring all education workers together, whatever your job or professional credentials, whether trade union member or not, into a fighting rank and file organisation. In the IWW, the teacher, the classroom assistant, the cleaner, the caretaker, the admin worker and the cook all stand united as workers. What's more, unlike other unions, we don't encourage management to join the IWW. This means that we will always put workers' interests first, 100% of the time, because there are no managers in our ranks.

'Dual carders'

Since the education sector is one of the most unionised sectors in the UK, many IWW education workers operate as a network of workplace militants within the mainstream education unions. As such, the IWW welcomes education workers who are already in another union. Our members are engaged both in independent IWW organising work, and pushing a radical and democratic platform within the mainstream unions.

The state of the union

The Education Workers' Industrial Union (No. 620) is currently the largest section of the IWW in the UK. We have active organising campaigns and committees in branches around the country and our numbers are growing apace. Our members are involved in organising at their own workplaces, representing other members at grievance and disciplinary hearings, supporting struggles elsewhere and participating in community-based campaigns. Recently, IWW members in Glasgow and Dumfriesshire spearheaded a successful campaign against the closure of one of Glasgow University's campuses that united workers, students and local community members and effectively won the campus around £1.5 million from the Scottish Parliament.

We remain small, but we are growing in numbers, strength and confidence. This is because a radical, rank-and-file run industrial union for all education workers is both possible and necessary.

For more news and views, visit our blog.

Scottish Education Workers’ Network: What We Stand For

What We Stand For:  Worker and student rights and self-organisation / Opposition to casualisation/precarious work / A vision for education / Full funding / Industrial (sector-wide) organising / Actions and campaigns / International contacts / Equality and diversity / Countering bullying, harassment, and discrimination / Research, scholarship and knowledge creation

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