Tuesday, 10 June 2014

STRB Report: Another Serious Attack on Teachers' Pay

Far from the Review Body 'listening' to teachers, today's STRB pay recommendations show that they - and Michael Gove - are determined to impose yet more pay robbery on teachers. Even more dangerously, the STRB proposes the complete replacement of national pay scales by divisive school-by-school performance-pay. 

All of the recommendations have been given Gove's blessing. Here are some of the key points (For added clarity, these proposals are in addition to the existing threat that teachers might not be awarded pay progression, from one point to the next, this September if they are judged to have failed to meet performance-pay targets) :

a) 1% at best - another below-inflation pay cut:
This Government's pension and pay cuts have already cut teachers' real living standards by around 15%. Now Gove is recommending just a 1% annual pay award - and that only for the top and bottom of the pay scales: "The STRB has recommended a 1% uplift of the national framework for teachers’ pay from September 2014. The uplift will be applied to the minima and maxima of all the pay ranges and allowances in the national pay framework".

b) Schools could decide on 0% for many teachers:

Schools will be given the power to decide on even lower increases for staff paid on other spine points: "For all teachers who are paid other than on the minima and maxima the STRB has recommended that schools should determine locally how to take account of the uplift"

c) In 2015, there will be no guarantee of an increase at all
By 2015, even the annual award will depend on 'performance': "In revising their pay policies for 2014 to 2015, schools should consider, and set out, how any pay decisions for those on the maxima of pay ranges in September 2015 will take account of performance in applying any uplift to the national framework"


d) By 2015, even advisory pay scales will be abolished
I also joined NUT members at today's Lobby
"Reference points should be removed from DfE advice following the September 2014 pay decisions ... all schools should revise their pay policies for 2014 to 2015, and set locally determined arrangements for performance-related progression as a basis for decisions on pay in September 2015"

Quotes taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/school-teachers-review-body-24th-report

We have to respond with firm action

In response, a press release from the National Union says that “the NUT will be calling on Michael Gove to reconsider this derisory pay settlement and to take action to ensure that every teacher gets an adequate pay increase in September and to ensure all schools follow a national pay scale.”

Of course we must make those demands, but we also know that they will fall on deaf ears - unless Gove is forced back by teachers taking firm strike action in response to this provocation.

This latest threat makes building for our strike action on July 10 even more vital. The complete removal of national pay scales would leave every teacher vulnerable to unscrupulous bullying and pressure as schools set even more unreasonable performance-pay targets for teachers to meet. It would create a complete performance-pay free-for-all.

No teacher wants to lose pay to strike action without good reason. Some may need hardship collections to help them join their colleagues on strike. However, today's STRB Report provides yet more good reasons to act. The salary we would lose on strike will be far outweighed by the losses - financially and physically - that teachers will face unless these attacks on pay - alongside those on pensions and workload - are defeated.

United action on November 30 2011
Build for joint action on July 10 - and beyond.
Teachers are not alone in seeing their living standards attacked. Importantly, this means we will also not be alone in  taking action on pay.

At the meeting of the SERTUC Public Services Committee that I chaired this morning at Congress House, Local Authority unions reported on their ongoing ballots for strike action over pay. If all the results are positive, UNISON, GMB and UNITE will all be starting action with a one-day national strike on July 10th. The PCS are also consulting their members over co-ordinating action on the same day. The FBU, preparing for 24-hour strike action on June 12th as part of their dispute over pensions, might also be taking action in July too.  If these unions are all able to co-ordinate action with the NUT, then July 10 will become a substantial display of trade union strength.

The Local Authority union ballots have yet to be won, but plans are being made for joint rallies on the day. Local Authority unions are keen to also make sure there is time for local picketing of workplaces first  - and that's an activity that can also involve NUT members too. However, it's also important that mass demonstrations are built so that trade unionists feel the strength, unity and solidarity of marching together with their colleagues.

Significantly, there was also a discussion about provisional plans that Local Authority unions are making for further action in the autumn. Reflecting the debates within the NUT, it was rightly pointed out that members didn't just want to make a 'gesture' on July 10, they needed to know that it was part of ongoing action intended to win their dispute. Of course, the demand for a calendar of action, rather than isolated strike days, is central to my GS campaign. 

Gove's blunders have made him even more unpopular this week. With decisive action, he can be forced back.

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