Thursday 11 February 2010

Will we win a ballot for national action on workload?

In the run-up to NUT Anual Conference at Easter, Local Associations are discussing amendments that will be vital in making sure we have a clear strategy for the union after the general election - not least on workload.

The last two Annual Conferences have supported our calls for national action on workload - but no such ballot has been taken. I don't want that mistake to be repeated again.

There is much common ground on the 'Left' of the Union on the general issues - the worsening workload, the management culture driving it, the need for a National Contract that can offer teachers real protection against the incessant demands being put on them. The question is, what action are we going to take to change that?

I don't want Conference just to pass another worthy motion that lists the problems and our aims - but puts off really doing anything about them. I am confident that, if the Union agreed a ballot for national action in the autumn term - and then went out and built for it - then the ballot would be won.

That's why I hope we can agree a Conference amendment on workload that makes clear to a new Government of our intention to ballot in the autumn term, and to take that action unless there have been serious moves towards implementing our demands.

We need to build and prepare for that camapign throughout the summer term, consulting over the forms of strike and non-strike action that members would most find useful in limiting workload and effective in winning our demands. A series of local and regional rallies and meetings should be held to prepare for action. This is the kind of approach that we should have adopted after the SATs decision last Easter - we should do it now over workload.

Of course, other issues such as pensions and cuts may also become key priorities after the election. The discussion with members over workload action may also need to include action on these issues too. However, I don't see that one means ditching the other. Workload is an immediate and pressing issue for so many members that it will help encourage members to take action on other issues as well.

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