Monday 9 April 2012

NUT Conference Report - Monday April 9


In response to the Government’s threats to introduce ‘local pay’ in place of existing national pay scales, NUT Conference agreed an emergency motion in ‘defence of national pay and conditions for teachers’.

Writing in the Socialist Party Teachers Conference bulletin, Caroline Butchers, a teacher living and working in Llanelli, a town with low wages and high levels of poverty, explained what this attack would mean:

“Cutting public sector wages through regional pay wouldn't just be a blow to teachers and other workers, it would be a disaster for the whole area. About 40% of jobs in the area are in the public sector. Cutting our wages won't help the local economy, we'll just have even less to spend in our local communities.

It's nonsense for the Tories to say that 'if you really want to teach, the pay won't matter'. We still have to pay our bills and, even in Wales, house prices are still out of the price range for the average single teacher and everything else, such as petrol and food is exactly the same price as anywhere else.

All that regional pay will do is drive teachers away from these working class areas and poorer communities will lose out as a result”.

Gawain Little, a newly elected member of the NUT National Executive, successfully proposed an  amendment which pointed out that “moves towards localised pay are inextricably linked with the attack on pensions and constitute a further step towards the fragmentation and privatisation of the education system”. As Gawain explained, cheapening the costs of pensions, hardening capability procedures to make ‘hiring and firing’ easier, and eliminating national pay and conditions are all ‘essential steps’ to allowing the private sector to take over education - and to make a profit.

Big business is hoarding piles of cash instead of investing in jobs and the real economy. Instead of meeting the needs of the many, they want to loot our schools and public services to generate even more profits at the expense of both staff and those who rely on those services.

As with yesterday’s debate on OfSTED and the excellent discussion that followed today on Academies, the real agenda of this pro-privatisation Government of millionaires is clear to most Conference delegates. We need to make sure that staff, parents, fellow trade unionists and working people  understand that agenda too – and support our struggles to stop this disgraceful looting of the public services that trade unions have won over previous generations.

Electing trade union-backed anti-cuts candidates– and I am one of those standing on the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition list on May 3rd in the Greater London Assembly elections – would also make sure trade unionists can fight these struggles through developing genuine political representation as well as through taking industrial action.

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