Saturday 31 March 2012

INTO / UTU - A work-to-rule with teeth?

NUT members may not be aware that is other work-to-rule action going on apart from the NASUWT action.

Coventry and Lewisham NUT have an amendment on this Easter's NUT Annual Conference agenda (30.2) referring to action in Northern Ireland - the article below from the Socialist Party Teachers' Conference bulletin explains what the action entails.

Just think what we could achieve if NUT, NASUWT and ATL members agreed on joint action on both this kind of action 'short of strike action' as well as joint strike action to defend pensions!

A report from Northern Ireland:

 Mary Cahillane INTO Central Executive Committee District 1 Northern Ireland

“If an inspector comes into your classroom, you stop teaching, tell your class to stop what they’re doing and inform the inspector that you are on industrial action”.

INTO (the Irish National Teachers Organisation) and our sister union the UTU (Ulster Teachers’ Union) began its action ‘short of strike’ straight after our very successful strike action on November 30.

Our action has four main strands:

1. No co-operation with the ETI (our equivalent to Ofsted)
In the face of hostility and extreme pressure (particularly in small schools) our members have stood firm and solid on this action and they are to be congratulated. They have been directed to give no documentation, policies or data to the ETI and if an inspector enters an INTO members classroom the member is instructed to stop teaching and inform the inspector that they are on industrial action.

According to the Belfast Telegraph of 14 March, "the school inspections system has been plunged into chaos”. In essence the INTO/UTU action has stopped the inspection process in any school where both unions have a sizeable membership.

2. Directed time and meetings
Teachers are directed to teach their teaching hours only, that is 25 hours in a primary school and 23.5 hours in a post-primary school. PPA will continue in a place of their choosing which can be on or off the school premises. In our climate of over 3,000 compulsory redundancies we have allowed one staff meeting lasting no longer than one hour per fortnight for information purposes. There must be one weeks advance notice and an agenda given for this meeting. There are no parent-teacher meetings unless they are held during the normal teaching day. Baker Days, Exceptional Closures and SID days are all used for Planning Preparation and Assessment and one staff meeting of one hour if necessary.

This action is very popular with members. It has put an end to the endless, pointless after school meetings that previously took place. Teachers have adequate time to plan and prepare and they have regained some kind of work-life balance. Again members have been threatened with breach of contract / salary deduction but have stood firm nevertheless.

3. Pupil Data
In our data driven system, which is more interested in league tables than educating pupils, the last part of our action directs members not to input any data that can be accessed by any external agencies into our IT systems. This has the effect of choking the DENI's data systems. They cannot make or use any comparative data to use against schools and therefore cannot measure performance. Internal assessments, end of year reports to parents etc continue in the normal way but for internal school and parents’ use only.

4. We are not implementing any new assessment arrangements.

Previous INTO work to rule actions have caused some confusion and have generated a lot of queries. The present action is very clear and leaves no room for doubt. Since beginning our action our membership has risen by over 17% - a staggering number in such a small teaching workforce - but also an indication that teachers will carry out tough action when given clear leadership and clear guidance even under circumstances of extreme pressure.

Industrial action short of strike can’t be a substitute for co-ordinated and sustained strike action on pensions. At best it is a tactic that keeps teachers aware until the next strike takes place. In the meantime it does have the effect of giving teachers space and, because we are having to pay more and work longer, then we will DO LESS and LIVE LONGER.

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