Internationalism sits at the heart of the National Education Union’s values. As an education trade union, we believe that defending human rights, including trade union rights and the right to education, must be a global endeavour.
Welcome to On the Global Stage a publication detailing the international work of the National Education Union over the past year. What follows is a round-up of some of the key work undertaken by activists at local, regional and national level. Organised around four pillars, our international work has the power not just to change the world we live in but to change our organisation and our members too.
In defending human, trade union and children’s rights, we seek to improve things for those struggling against oppression across the world by standing shoulder to shoulder with them and carrying out practical and political solidarity with their struggle. Much of this work is awareness- raising, ensuring that the voices of our sisters and brothers are heard loud and clear. This work includes our delegations to Palestine and Cuba, opening our members’ eyes to the impact of imperialism and building networks of solidarity to challenge Israeli occupation and the US blockade.
Campaigning for quality education for all is at the heart of our solidarity work as an education trade union. The right to a high-quality, free, state-provided education for every child are basic principles that drive much of our solidarity work. This includes opposing the privatisers who see the gap between our aspirations for education and the stark reality on the ground as an opportunity to profit from poverty and unequal access.
None of this would be possible without our members’ commitment to engage in and build international solidarity work throughout our union. This forms our third pillar and much of our work is involved in investing in this capacity, from the workplace up. We have a strong and growing network of international solidarity officers, co-ordinated by our international organising forum, with members in every region and nation of the union. All of this comes together in our annual International Solidarity Conference – our main international event of the year. This year we were proud to use this event to launch our new education resource on the work of the London recruits, highlighting another educational aspect of our work.
A core principle of our international solidarity work is that it has a two-way benefit. We gain and learn as much from this work as we contribute. Our fourth pillar is about putting this principle into practice – explicitly focusing on what we can learn from others across the globe to strengthen our collective struggle to defend education and trade union principles from those who would curtail or debase them.
The thread running throughout this work is the basic principle of solidarity on which our movement is founded. This is a principle which should know no borders.
rnational solidarity work is not an add- on to the core work of our union; it is our core work expressed on the global stage.
Chair, NEU International Solidarity Committee