Wednesday 9 September 2009

Modernisation: More Work, Worse Service.

Standing on the picket line at my local sorting office in Forest Hill this morning, the banter among the striking posties would have sounded familar to many teachers - particularly tales of bullying managers who want to squeeze even more hours of work into the working day.

The result of this 'modernisation' is, of course, unmanageable workload and a poorer service. But it was heartening that a least one passing Australian commuter realised what was at stake, telling the pickets "the mail service is one of the best things about Britain. If this is about defending the service, I'm right behind you".

I explained that teachers face very similar attacks as schools try to squeeze even more work out of us, with new initiatives and demands always being added to our workload. Like the posties, we need to explain that this isn't just bad for teachers, it's also bad for public services. Stressed and overworked staff cannot provide the careful preparation and individual support that our classes and children deserve.

The latest report into teacher workload carried out for the DCSF has to concede that, despite all their promises, "there has been no overall reduction in teachers' workloads". Teachers know the Government cannot be trusted to improve our working lives - but that means that it is up to the Union to make a stand to enforce a real limit on our working hours. That stand is long overdue. Teachers cannot be left to put up with the intolerable stress and pressure most of us are facing at present.

Again like teachers, some of the pickets this morning expressed frustration at strike action only being taken in a few areas and were glad that the CWU are opening a national action ballot next week. For the last two years, I have helped convince NUT Annual Conference delegates to also vote for national action to tackle workload - but the policy hasn't been implemented. I think it's time we did.

I am standing in this election to add my voice to the NUT Executive and to make sure that the Union puts policy into practice and launches national action so that we can call a halt to excessive workload.

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