Sunday 6 September 2009

Politicians prepare to take on the public sector

As ever, it hasn't taken long for the summer break to disappear under another barrage of targets and tasks. Many teachers have gone back to work to find their school manaagements determined to try to squeeze even more out of staff. Even where schools' SATs or GCSE results have improved, the only 'reward' is to be given even higher targets - without any regard to the worsening difficulties facing our pupils and their communities. Faced with those rising needs, it's a testament to the skills and dedication of teachers that so many students do succeed.

Bot if the pressure's bad now, the signs are that things will get even worse after the General Election - unless we stand firm. Darling is beginning to admit that Labour will need to make significant spending cuts - so that we can pay for the cost of the state taking on the debts run up by the profiteers of the private sector. The Tories will undoubtedly take the attacks even further.

A Newsnight debate over the summer gave a panel the task of coming up with the best proposals for reducing government debt. The 'solutions' (actually reducing our spending power could make matters even worse economically) included an indefinite public sector pay freeze and a renewed attack on our pensions.

So the politicians are ready for a battle - but are trade unions? Public sector unions will require a firm and tenacious leadership in the months and years ahead if we are to protect teachers, and education as a whole, against these threats. That's why I am standing in the National Officers election this term to stand as a Union Vice-President that can strengthen the NUT leadership and make sure that we are ready for the battles that lie ahead.

Martin Powell-Davies

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