Teacher Strikes: Exclusive interview with Jeremy Corbyn
Yet again strikes still seem to be abundant as ever; more and more workers are taking action as disputes still remain unresolved. The inflation rate has however dropped from 10.5% to 10.1% from December to January 2023 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), for the third consecutive month in a row. The government has also recommended a 3.5% pay rise for millions of public workers, this includes teachers and nurses, however, this increase is below the inflation rate, which is not ideal for the National Education Union (NEU), who stated that their dispute is about “seeking pay increases for teachers which at least match price increases”.
Therefore many teachers across the UK are still set to strike, with those in the South East of England due to strike on the 2nd of March. But is it right? Or should teachers continue negotiations to avoid industrial action? Exclusive Interview with Jeremy Corbyn
Whilst teachers were striking on the 1st of February, I had attended a teacher rally near Angel Station, where I had the opportunity to interview Jeremy Corbyn for the Toast News.
“What do you think about the strikes?”
When asked about his opinions on the strikes, he said “I’m supporting the strikes, I’m supporting our teachers who do a fantastic job, they work incredibly hard, they’re very stressed,”. In addition to teachers, he also felt that students, particularly in primary and secondary schools are “often over-tested and over stressed” and that “we need changes in our education system.”
“What do you think the Government should do?”
I then inquired about what he believes the Government should do against further industrial action, he explained that the Government shouldn’t just “stand on the side and say it’s nothing to do with them, it’s everything to do with them,”, rather, the Government should “put the money in to fund the pay increases that teachers need”.
“Do you think the strikes are working?”
After being asked whether he believed the strikes were working, he immediately answered “Yes I do. I think they’re working and the Government is beginning to retreat, we’re going to win.” His answer to the question showed his strong belief in the strikes, and that it’s effective.
“How long do you think the strikes will last for?”
When asked about his thoughts for how long the strikes will last, the former opposition leader responded with “Hard to say”, showing the uncertainty not just within the public, but within parliament as well. However, he believed that “there’ll be more of them [the strikes], that’s for sure, and also rail strikes”, and he added that “I think it’s working.”, which further highlights his firm belief of the effectiveness of strikes.
“Do you think that the public supports the strikes?”
When questioned about public support for the strikes, he responded that “In general, yes, they do.”, and revealed that opinion polling suggests that the “lowest level of support is 60% for rail workers” and that figure ranges between “80-90%” for nurses, so therefore he does believe that “public support is there”. However, these statistics cannot be fully confirmed, as other public polling suggests otherwise, and it was unclear whether he was stating figures for a separate polling or an overall result of all pollings, in which case his statements would have been false. The lowest number of support from the public ranges around 30% in some polls.
Overall, I believe that strikes are effective, however they are not effective enough. As the strikes continue, some disputes are still ongoing and are still not resolved, such as the disputes between the government and the RCN (Royal College of Nursing) or the NEU. The strikes are causing difficulties for the public, from rail strikes to school strikes, and yet negotiations have still not come to a result which could settle the disputes. I believe that the government must offer a pay increase above the inflation rate in order for the industrial action to finally come to an end.