Sunday 7 October 2007



National Union of Teachers posters rightly proclaimed the refusal by Government to reconsider the schoolteachers pay award of 2.5% for this September as a “matter of honour”. Fortunately, you might think, as we still have negotiating rights when it comes to the pay of teachers in sixth-form colleges, we could insist on a better deal for them?

But when the same below-inflation 2.5% award was proposed by sixth form employers for their teaching staff, the NUT’s negotiators, including Martin Reed, agreed to it!

At a time when the National Union is meant to be gearing up for national strike action to reject pay cuts, how can we agree that sixth-form college staff put up with 2.5%? Like other teachers, their debts and bills, mortgages and rents are also rising at well above 2.5% a year. So this would mean, in effect, agreeing to a pay cut. It must be rejected.

An acceptance of 2.5% would also undermine our national campaign for all teachers. How serious would we appear to Government if they knew that we had already recommended 2.5% to sixth-form staff ?

Fortunately, NUT members in some sixth form colleges quickly picked up on the news and sent in their protests to the National Executive members. The original advice to recommend acceptance of the 2.5% deal was changed at Thursday’s National NUT Executive into not putting out any recommendation, for or against the deal, in the ballot that is now being issued to sixth form college members. (Unfortunately a proposal to actually recommend a NO vote was also defeated however).

I believe that teachers should be encouraging their sixth form college colleagues to vote to reject the offer. I am attending an NUT meeting at the Sixth Form College in Lewisham on Tuesday to put this case to my members. Every NUT Association with a sixth form college should try to do the same.

Staff in schools and sixth form colleges should be taking united national action to demand the 10% rise agreed as NUT Conference policy and to win the Government funding needed to pay for it as well. We should be uniting with other colleagues taking action like postal workers and civil servants too. After all, when billions are needed to bale out the banks, money can quickly be found. Aren’t teachers and other public sector workers a priority too?

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