Thursday 28 June 2007


I’m not posting this item to make any claims for my campaign but just to help alert everyone to a real emergency for overseas trained teachers.

I attended a packed meeting organised by the London Region of the NUT last night in NUT Headquarters that was filled with teachers from South Africa, Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand and many other countries. Many had come because they were about to be thrown out of work. Some faced being thrown out of the country as a result as well.

This outrage is a result of Government legislation stopping teachers from outside Europe continuing in work if they have failed to obtain Qualified Teacher Status within four years of first taking a teaching post in England. But many colleagues, although well qualified in their own countries, were never given a chance to complete the necessary course to gain QTS in the UK. Many were invited to London to solve teaching shortages, often underpaid for the vital work they did – and now face dismissal.

Police restrictions mean we have to change the venue of the lobby on July 11th.

We are not able to assemble a the DfeS (or DCSF as it now is!)

We will therefore stage the protest outside the Home Office, which is in new buildings at 2 Marsham Street, SW1P starting at 5:00pm.

You can also add your name to a petition initiated by Jamaican teachers on

Martin Powell-Davies


A national meeting of NUT Divisional Secretaries was called at the Union’s headquarters on June 26th to discuss the NUT’s pay and workload campaigns.

NUT General Secretary, Steve Sinnott, opened the discussion by stressing the importance of ‘unity’ inside the Union in taking on such serious campaigns. In doing so, he was clearly having a dig at those, like me, that are critical of the Union’s strategy.

Trade unionists have always understood that ‘Unity is Strength’ - but it will only be true if we unite around the program of action needed to defend our members and education. If we are not careful, ‘unity’ is going to be used as an excuse for inaction instead.

Steve Sinnott stressed the importance of getting the support of the NASUWT and ATL but a number of secretaries, including myself, stressed that we needed to look, first of all, to unions like PCS and CWU if we wanted to find leaderships that were prepared to take joint action alongside us.

I pointed out how the NUT had taken the lead by calling the first London Allowance strike in 2002. The pressure from below had then convinced the NASUWT to ballot alongside us for the second day’s strike later in that year. My own discussions with ATL and NASUWT Executive members had confirmed to me that it would take similar pressure to move them into action this time.

The NUT has to take a lead, not wait for the NASUWT. But Steve’s reply that we couldn’t look for “shortcuts” was a worrying indication that this is exactly what he wants to do. He insisted that he needed to maintain “flexibility” over the timetable for action. But if we wait for the other teacher union leaders, bound up in their ‘social partnership’ with the New Labour government, we could be waiting for a very long time – instead of seizing the time to take action.


”Jane Nellist from Coventry countered by pointing out that what the campaign urgently needed was a clear date for a ballot to begin after the summer break. She quoted from one of the contributions posted on the NUT website from a Lincolnshire teacher, asking simply, “why don’t we just get on with it?”

Dave Thomas from West Sussex rightly stated that the best way of the Union showing it was serious – as Steve insisted we were – was to name a date for the ballot.

I reported from the meetings I had attended in Lewisham and Greenwich and warned Steve that many of the teachers attending had seen the delays in announcing a ballot as the Union “dithering”. That provoked an agitated insistence that “nobody is dithering”. Well, if he’s right, let’s hope that when the Executive meets in July to “examine a ballot timescale”, the General Secretary will be recommending a date for a ballot in September!

Unfortunately, I fear NUT members will have to keep up the pressure right into the Autumn for the Union to finally put Conference policy for national action into effect. If my Vice-Presidential campaign can help to apply some of that pressure, it will have been more than worthwhile. If I can then keep up the pressure as President, all the better !


The final session of the day focussed on the Union’s workload campaign. When one secretary asked simply, “is the Union’s strategy working?” most in the room knew the honest answer – no, it wasn’t. Workload was still as bad a burden as ever yet only three schools had held action ballots under the new guidelines across the entire union!

It was left to Divisional Secretaries at the sharp end of handling members’ complaints to try and suggest some ways forward. Some suggested that action short of strike action, like refusing to hand in lesson plans to Heads, needed to be pursued alongside strike action. Others pointed to the need to take collective action across an authority, not relying on isolated school-by-school action. One suggested a national push on a few key issues.

As I argued at Conference, the Union certainly has to stop putting all the responsibility on individual school reps and local officers and start to give a national lead. I will continue to argue for the Union to follow the strategy pursued by the PCS and hold a single ballot for national action over all of the main grievances we have with Government – workload, pay, performance pay and the break-up of comprehensive local authority schooling.

Martin Powell-Davies 27 June 2007

Report from Bristol

It was fantastic to see Nina, Bristol's Divisional Secretary, back on the top table for her first general meeting for some time. However, knowing that the Branch usually relies on her for guidance, and that, in this case, she was backing the "agreed" "left" candidates of Roger and Gill, I did not have great expectations when I raised the notion of nominating Martin and Roger as an alternative. I was armed only with Martin's latest leaflet and a few words about how Martin was up for action in September and that he was a good campaigner.
My proposal was quickly seconded by a member who had met Martin at the June 12th Anti Academies Alliance enquiry at the House of Commons and must have been impressed.
The votes were as follows :- Martin - 9, Roger - 9, Gill - 7, Hank -7. Given contingents from the SWP opposing Martin ( largely by arguing for Gill solely because she was a woman) and supporters of the "Broad Left" backing Hank Roberts, this was an excellent result. It was won by the support from non-aligned teachers who wanted to back the candidates that were going to best stand up for classroom teachers.
I think the right decision was made by our branch. I also believe two factors are in play here. Firstly that Martin's campaign and the call for a ballot for action on pay in September strikes a chord with grass roots members. Secondly Martin's profile as a campaigner is stronger amongst members than even I had realised.
Rachael Thomas

Tuesday 26 June 2007

Two further nominations

Martin Powell-Davies was nominated by BRISTOL and GREENWICH today.
Bristol voted for Martin and Roger King, ahead of Gill Goodswen and Hank Roberts.
Greenwich voted for Martin - with only one against - and Gill Goodswen.
In both meetings, Martin's materials calling for the Executive to stop delaying and to announce a ballot for action on pay in September really struck a chord with NUT members.
(further reports to follow)

Monday 25 June 2007

ALAN JOHNSON has thrown down the gauntlet

" ALAN JOHNSON has thrown down the gauntlet to the NUT. He knows that NUT Annual Conference voted unanimously to prepare to ballot for a national one day strike to protect teachers’ pay. But he has refused to review our below-inflation 2.5% award imposed for 2006-08. He has also made very clear that we can expect 2%, at best, for the next three years.

Imposing pay rises beneath inflation is cutting our salaries in real terms. In return for the long hours we put in to keep our schools going, he expects us to put up with a deteriorating standard of living.

Mortgages & rents, food & fuel bills, continue to rise. Too many colleagues, especially young staff, struggle with debt. We can’t afford to let the Government get away with robbery. The number of teachers leaving teaching every year is over 10%. Pay cuts will increase damaging turnover.

Teachers know the 2% pay limit is a threat to their salaries. They also know that performance pay - especially under the new regulations operating from September - can be just as big a threat. We need to inspire teachers to vote for action by campaigning for the Union’s full salary claim - a 10% increase in salary scales as well as the end of divisive performance-related pay.

But the Executive is still dithering about how to put Conference policy into action. May’s meeting agreed a ‘robust’ response was needed - but we’re still waiting for it. June’s meeting agreed we should ballot - but put off examining a timetable until July. When are we going to seize the time ?!

If the NUT allows Johnson to call its bluff and holds back from a ballot, the Government will simply gain confidence to step up its attacks - on workload and comprehensive education, as well as on salaries.

Surveys and petitions can help build the campaign but what will really galvanise members is a clear call to arms - by announcing the date for a strike ballot.

We should announce a ballot in September for a first day’s action against the failure to honour the inflation ‘trigger’. It would send a warning shot to the Review Body and help prepare members to take more action if they make an unacceptable award.

We cannot afford to wait for the NASUWT to come on board before we act. A September ballot would allow us to pursue joint action, first of all, with those unions that are serious about wanting to build unified action, like the PCS. The Executive needs to have confidence in its members that, with a firm campaign, teachers will vote for national action .

Martin Powell-Davies

Download a leaflet for NUT meetings here

Thursday 21 June 2007

Wigan nomination

Wigan NUT Association has voted to nominate Martin Powell-Davies for the Vice-President election. Reportedly, members felt that "Martin was a breath of fresh air" !

Online discussions

Click on the image to go to the online discussion on Martin's campaign.

Wednesday 20 June 2007

Splitting the left?

In this article, Robin Pye takes up the issue of "splitting the left" under a single transferable vote system:-

There have been some objections from some on the left in the NUT to the nomination of Martin Powell-Davies for Vice-President.

The main objection seems to be that, by allowing his name to be put forward, Martin is splitting the left vote.

People raising these objections have short memories.

Two years ago, there were two STA candidates for the Vice-Presidency, Baljeet Ghale and Jane Nellist, as well as Sue Kortlandt as a CDFU candidate. Bill Greenshields also received some support from left leaning associations. In the election, Baljeet and Bill were, of course, elected.

Fours years ago, in the same elections, there were two recognisably left candidates, Baljeet and Roger King. Neither got elected.

2004 VP Results

First Preference Votes:

BILLS 15305 GHALE 7864 KING 5481 MOORHOUSE 9963

After transfers, Hilary BILLS and Judy MOORHOUSE were elected.

2006 VP Results

First Preference Votes:



After transfers, Baljeet GHALE and Bill GREENSHIELDS were elected.

So having more than two recognisably left candidates in these elections seemed to help get left candidates elected rather than prove to be an obstacle.

The main issue dividing the Union at the last conference in Harrogate was, of course, the question of whether the Union should include performance management and workload among the issues over which it ballots its members for national strike action.

There are only two candidates in this election that voted for this policy. One is Martin Powell-Davies who argued for this approach at conference, and the other is Roger King. The other candidates, including Gill Godswen of the CDFU voted against this course of action.

Given that this is the case, it seems perverse to argue that there is some over-riding imperative to achieve unity that means that those of us who supported the call for national action over performance management and workload should support a candidate for the Vice-Presidency who did not. Particularly as past experiences in these elections suggests that fielding two socialist candidates alongside a candidate from CDFU actually helps to get one of the socialists elected.

The postal workers are looking to join the PCS in taking on the government over pay, jobs and privatisation. The Brown government is not riding high in the polls and looks vulnerable. The NUT needs to be decisive in taking its place alongside other public sector unions and should be building support for national action on workload and
performance management, as well as pay, to build the broadest possible support for action.

As part of that campaign, socialists should be arguing for the election of candidates who support that aim. Nominating candidates who do not support that aim will merely strengthen those pessimistic elements in our Union's leadership who are in danger of undermining the Union's ability to take action alongside other public sector workers.

Robin Pye

Lewisham nomination

I was pleased that my nomination for Vice-President got such overwhelming support at Lewisham NUT’s General Meeting on Monday June 19th.

Of course, you might expect that Lewisham NUT members would support their own Divisional Secretary, but this vote was about much more than appreciation for my work supporting members in Lewisham.

The meeting had first unanimously passed the motion I proposed calling on the Union not to delay any longer in announcing that we will balloting for national action to oppose Johnson’s pay freeze (see leaflet on webpage) . By rejecting the “trigger” to review our pay award for 2006-8, and then insisting on a maximum 2% settlement for 2008-10, Johnson was effectively calling the NUT’s bluff. Will we now carry out our threat to ballot – or will we back away again?

That was the theme of many of the contributions in the discussion over nominations. Conference had voted unanimously for action – but was the leadership really serious in defending its members? Was it really serious in building united action with other unions? They knew Martin would be a President that would not back away.

In contrast, the material circulated from Roger King and Gill Goodswen failed to clearly spell out where they stood. After all, at the Harrogate Conference, some on the Left, including Gill, had voted against Lewisham’s amendment calling for national action over performance pay. Perhaps that was why Gill’s nomination only received one vote at the meeting. Ian Murch had even spoken against, warning delegates to have a ‘reality check’.

But the NUT members at the meeting knew exactly what reality for classroom teachers is like – long hours, divisive performance management and now a pay freeze. I was arguing for a clear program to build national action on these issues instead of the isolating school-by-school approach being adopted by the Union. That was why they supported my stand.

The argument about ‘splitting the left’ was put to the meeting. I understand the concerns – but I don’t accept the reasoning. Four years ago, there was a united slate of two Vice-President candidates – Roger and Baljeet – but neither was elected. Two years ago, there were three Left candidates – but instead of “splitting the vote”, Baljeet was elected.

In this election, there will also be three Left candidates and, with the transferable vote, my stand will help make sure at least one of us wins. The key factor is to have a platform that will attract teachers to return their vote – a platform that shows that they are voting for a President that will stand firm and give a real lead once elected too.

I am standing in this election to offer a platform that does offer a way forward for the Union. It was an approach that won the support of Lewisham teachers. I hope it can win the support of many other NUT members too. Most of all, I hope that my campaign can help make sure the Union starts to put policy into practice and builds the national action that we need to finally turn the tide in favour of teachers and education.

Martin Powell-Davies

Tuesday 19 June 2007

Lewisham nomination

Lewisham NUT has overwhelmingly voted to nominate Martin Powell-Davies for Vice President. They also nominated Roger King for the other VP position.

To support the campaign contact:

Martin Powell-Davies for VP • 32 Tannsfeld Road • Sydenham • LONDON SE26 5DF

Phone: 020 8659 8478 • Mobile: 07946 445488 • E-Mail: martinpd_uk(at) substituting the @ sign for the (at)

Friday 15 June 2007

Elect Martin Powell-Davies for NUT Vice President

The pressures facing teachers have never been greater. The demands on schools to "raise standards" have created intolerable workload for staff and a joyless curriculum for our students. The divisions between schools are widening as this Government seeks to make comprehensive schooling run by a democratic Local Authority a thing of the past. Unless defeated, the twin attacks of an imposed pay freeze and new performance management regulations will further strengthen the grip of divisive payment by results on education.

The National Union of Teachers has to show its members that we can turn the tide. With determined effort, school reps and local officers have won important victories through individual casework and local disputes. But the pressures only grow greater. The continuing stress of working in our underfunded and divided schools is taking its toll on teachers and on Local Association officers struggling to do the best they can to defend NUT members.

The 2007 National Officer Elections are an opportunity to strengthen our leadership. Local Associations need the support of a President who understands the pressures facing classroom teachers, can express their discontent, and help offer a strategy to take us forward.
We urge your Association to give one of your two nominations for Vice-President to Martin Powell-Davies. Martin will already be well known to many as Lewisham NUT's Secretary since 1992. He has regularly been a pivotal contributor to Annual Conference debate and an articulate campaigner for teachers' interests in school and public meetings, inside the Union and to the media. By electing him as Vice-President, NUT members can ensure that his skills and determination can also be used to strengthen the National Union.

Martin argued forcefully at Annual Conference 2007 that a strategy of defending members through individual school disputes alone is totally inadequate. As National Officer, he will campaign for the Union to lead from the front and build support for the national action that is required if we are to seriously tackle the national attacks we face.

The unanimous vote to prepare for national strike action to protect our pay was an important step forward. Martin will be campaigning within the Union to make sure that this policy is put firmly into practice, answering those who will try to find reasons not to stand firm, while forging links with other public sector unions to build strong united action.

Please do put Martin's name forward at your Association meeting and/or in any ballot held for nominations by the closing date of September 30th 2007. If you would like to add your personal support alongside ours, invite a speaker to your Association, order copies of Martin's campaign materials, or to donate to the campaign, please contact the address below.
Alison Long, Assistant Secretary, & Gabby Mullins, President, Lewisham NUT
Tim Woodcock, Divisional Secretary, & Joanne Sanderson, Membership Secretary, Greenwich NUT
Robin Pye, Secretary, St. Helens NUT Jane Nellist, Joint Secretary, Coventry NUT
Linda Taaffe and Julie Lyon-Taylor, members of the NUT National Executive
Phil Clarke, NUT Young Teachers Advisory Committee