Thursday 23 February 2012

Pay Cuts - the next big threat from Gove and Cameron

This morning’s NUT Salaries Committee gave National Executive members our first chance to respond to the serious threats posed by Gove’s letter asking the School Teachers’ Review Body to consider major attacks on teachers’ pay. (See  first post quoting from letter below on

The first threat is ‘local pay’ – linking pay levels to local private sector pay rates. This could mean that not just pay freezes - but actual pay cuts - won’t be something that just happens in countries like Greece. They could soon be coming to parts of England and Wales too.

Gove seems to want to ignore the reality that most national employers - as in teaching - still have national pay arrangements with additional payments in high-cost areas like London and the South-East. But, of course, both public and private-sector employers will be happy to seize on local pay as a means to cut costs. In this case, it’s another blatant excuse for the Government to make further spending cuts.

Even with a pay freeze in place, at least annual pay progression up the main scale and, although getting harder to achieve, progression on the upper pay scale, has allowed some teachers to increase their annual incomes. But Gove has this firmly in his sights too.

Gove wants there to be even greater links between pay and performance – including on the main scale. When this is put in the context of Gove’s wider ‘trash teachers’ agenda, it’s clear that this is a serious threat to block progress up the pay scales by making progress dependent on meeting harsh imposed criteria.

Teachers are already finding that progress on the Upper Pay Scale is being blocked by schools imposing unfair pupil progress targets and/or using harsh classroom observation reports. With new appraisal arrangements being left for schools to adopt individually, these decisions could become even harsher and even more subjective. Again, it threatens a serious attack on teachers’ incomes.

The Committee agreed that this was such a serious attack that the Executive should recommend a Priority Motion to the NUT Annual Conference this Easter to make our opposition clear.

On top of the attack on pensions (which includes pay cuts of course), teachers are facing a barrage of further attacks on workload, capability/appraisal arrangements and now salaries. As I suggested today, all these attacks are interlinked. We can’t respond to them by a set of separate action ballots. Instead, I proposed the Executive considers an enabling ballot that, similarly to the PCS, allows us to ballot for combined action against all of these combined attacks.

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