Monday 15 October 2007

Do you feel well-off?

Do you feel well-off?
Divisional Secretaries meeting discusses NUT action strategy

NUT General Secretary Steve Sinnott addressed the annual meeting of NUT Divisional Secretaries at Stoke Rochford last week saying that the Union had to choose the “time we can best mobilise the teaching profession”.

Why balloting members on December 10th for action on pay at the end of January is the right time was not explained. If this timetable, the one being considered by the National Executive, is chosen, then NUT members will have to go all out to get the strongest Yes vote possible. However, surely balloting for action alongside UNISON support staff colleagues would have been a better time than to start a ballot than amid the Xmas activities at the end of term?

Steve Sinnott’s caution is based on his analysis that “many teachers feel better off than they have for many years – that’s the simple truth”. But the responses posted by angry members on the National Union’s own website show that this just isn’t true. Many angrily compare their pay with their long hours and calculate a miserly hourly rate for teachers.

I was able to challenge Steve to justify his analysis. Yes, I suggested, some teachers feel better off but many others are struggling to pay bills and rising housing costs. The latest figures show 30,000 fewer teachers are being paid TLRs than received Management Allowances. Only a half of teachers on M6 are progressing over the ‘threshold’ to UPS1.

A fighting leadership should be confident that it can inspire teachers to vote for action to oppose the pay freeze – especially if we link it to the need to take action on workload and the other attacks we face as well.

There were other important discussions during the three-day meeting, with several NUT secretaries joining me in taking up the theme that we need to be taking national action on workload rather than fighting school-by-school. There was also an inspiring address by Michael Lees, husband of an NUT member who died of mesothelioma, about the need to remove asbestos from all schools.

My election materials were taken away by many NUT Secretaries who gladly agreed to distribute them in their schools.

Martin Powell-Davies

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