Monday 19 October 2009

A national action strategy to cut workload

Workload is a national issue - and it needs to be tackled as part of a national campaign.

Lewisham NUT members are discussing this draft motion to put to our meeting in November as a motion for next year's Annual Conference - perhaps your Local Association can do the same?


Conference recognises that excessive workload remains one of the key issues for teachers and the Union. Working weeks of 50 hours and more, and the stress and intensity of our working days, continue to drive too many talented teachers out of the profession.

The policies of successive governments are the root cause for the intolerable pressures facing teachers. League tables, OFSTED and SATS are used to bully teachers into taking on even greater workload in order to meet imposed targets. Inadequate funding, which will be made worse by threatened spending cuts, means that there are insufficient teaching and support staff to share out workload so that children’s needs can be met while still ensuring that teachers enjoy the ‘reasonable work-life balance’ that we are supposedly entitled to.

As even the Government’s own figures indicate, the attempts by other unions to improve workload through ‘social partnership’ have failed to produce any significant reduction in working hours. However, we also have to recognise that our own strategy has also failed to protect members from the burden of excessive workload.

Conference recognises that, while school-based disputes can be valuable in protecting members from excessive workload demands, they are, alone, an inadequate strategy. While the present inadequate provisions of the Pay and Conditions Document remain, particularly the continuing open-ended requirement on teachers’ overall working hours, teachers will continue to have inadequate legal protection against excessive workload. In order to give all teachers real protection against excessive workload, we have to win a new national contract setting down improved national conditions for all teachers.

That is why the last two Annual Conferences have supported motions calling for national action to improve teachers’ working conditions, thereby bringing all members together to tackle a national issue as part of a national campaign.

Conference reiterates its support for a campaign of national action to win a national teachers contract and demands that the Executive delay no longer in implementing the clear view of Conference in pursuing such a course of action.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive to:
a) Draw up a claim that sets out specific improvements to teachers’ working conditions, including binding limits on teachers’ overall working hours;
b) Prepare a publicity, campaigning and action strategy to win such a claim, emphasising to the public that improved working conditions for teachers means improved learning conditions for children;
c) Hold a national ballot to sanction a national program of strike and non-strike action that would commence in the autumn term 2010;
d) Seek support from other trade unions to join our campaign of national action.

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