Our Union correctly challenged Alan Johnson to
“honour” the commitment to review our 2006 and 2007
pay awards if inflation went over the 3.25% “trigger”.
He refused and then made clear we could expect 2% up
until 2011 to boot ! The Government had called the
NUT’s bluff and waited to see how we responded.
The Union promised a “robust response” but June’s NUT
Executive put off a decision on a national ballot
timetable until July. But now we have been told what
the General Secretary is proposing that timetable
should be - to wait until JANUARY 2008 before we take
This delay will only confirm fears that the Union is
failing to grasp the nettle and call the national
action agreed unanimously back at the Easter
Conference. The supposed ‘unity’ at the June Executive
to commit to a ballot for action “in the Autumn Term”
can now be seen as a way to gloss over two very
different approaches to action.
Steve Sinnott’s proposal is to delay a ballot until
December, after the Review Body reports in early
November, and hope to then get the NASUWT aboard for
joint action in the New Year. But that delay risks
losing the momentum that is building up, frustrating
members who are ready to support action now and, most
of all, prevents us from linking up with unions that
are really serious about taking national action in the
Autumn like the PCS. Why wait for the Review Body to
confirm 2% or thereabouts?
The right approach, as I have been arguing for in my
campaign, is to hold a ballot in September, before the
Review Body reports. This is the only way to protest
against the failure to honour the “trigger” and to
apply real pressure to the Review Body to meet our
demands for a 10% pay rise and for the end of
An early ballot would also help us coordinate action
with other public sector unions and apply the same
kind of pressure that persuaded the Government to
retreat over pensions. It would also be the best way
of pushing the NASUWT into action. A united public
sector strike would be a huge confidence boost for
trade unionists and a blow to Gordon Brown’s prestige.
Of course, that could be the very reason why some
union leaders are holding back.
Unfortunately, some people have accused me of
exaggerating differences over the pay ballot timetable
simply for ‘electioneering’ purposes. But the
differences are very real - and too important for the
future of teachers’ salaries to simply wish away. As I
have said before on this blog, nothing would have
pleased me more than to be proved wrong and for the
Union to agree on an early ballot after all.
Unfortunately, members’ fears that the Union is
“dithering” will only be strengthened if the July 18th
Executive meeting votes to delay action until the New
A delayed ballot will be a setback. NUT Divisions will
have to find ways to maintain the campaign throughout
the Autumn Term such as organising joint rallies with
other public sector unions. A national demonstration
against the pay freeze, as the PCS are proposing to
the TUC in September, would help sustain the momentum.
But when Linda Taaffe suggested this at the June NUT
Executive she could hardly find any other support!
One thing is clear – that this Union needs a fighting
leadership. That’s why I am challenging to be
Vice-President. I hope my campaign can encourage
classroom teachers, reps and local officers to get
organised to build a Union locally and nationally that
is ready and willing to stand up firmly for teachers