Monday 28 May 2012

NASUWT & NUT joint declaration of intent

The NASUWT and NUT have today launched the following joint declaration:

"Given the unprecedented and sustained attack by the Government on the teaching profession and the consequent damage to the education service, the two largest teachers’ unions, the NASUWT and NUT have agreed to act together in defence of teachers and of education.

This historic agreement arises from the serious concerns that members of both of our unions have about the way the present Government is undermining the education system. This agreement between two unions, that between them represent more than 85% of all teachers in England and Wales, should give the Government pause for thought.

Our members’ key concerns are about the attacks on their working conditions, workload, pensions, pay and jobs. Teachers’ conditions of service are inextricably linked to the provision of high quality education for all.

Our two unions intend to mount an unprecedented joint campaign on these issues. In particular, we will challenge:
  • unacceptable and excessive workload pressures which are damaging to teachers’ health and wellbeing, undermining teaching and learning and threatening educational standards;
  •  the failure of the Government to carry out the valuation of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, the imposition of unfair contribution increases and changes to make teachers work to 68 or higher to get a full pension;
  •  the Government’s proposals for local pay and performance related pay and the continuation of the pay freeze for teachers;
  • the attack on teachers’ jobs and national terms and conditions of service, including those arising from the privatisation and academisation of schools;
  • threats to jobs arising from funding cuts and education and curriculum reforms.
We believe the threat to the profession and the education service is now so severe that jointly coordinated action is essential. We are writing to the Secretary of State for Education and, as appropriate, the Minister for Education in Wales, to seek urgent discussions about these issues which threaten teacher morale and the whole education system. We urge them to make the best use of the time available before the start of the next school year to reach agreement with us.

Our campaign will involve working jointly on political lobbying, public campaigns, research and negotiation, together with a jointly coordinated programme of industrial action, including action short of strike action and strike action.

Should the Government refuse to take the current opportunity to negotiate sensible arrangements which protect teachers and defend education, then it is our intention to move to escalate industrial action, including jointly coordinated strike action and action short of strike action in the autumn".

This declaration could be an important step towards powerful joint action by the big majority of classroom teachers in England and Wales - but NUT and NASUWT members will need to make sure that its full potential is realised. 

As the statement from the Steering Commitee to the LANAC Conference on June 16 has stated:

"[We] welcome and seek to maximise the potential of the national joint  declaration of intent between the NUT and NASUWT on action to defend pensions & jobs, and to fight excessive workload, local and performance pay, starting by making every effort to win the national NUT ballot this term with as large a majority and turnout as possible.

[We will] work to ensure that the joint NUT/NASUWT initiative:
(a) includes joint national strike action
(b) clearly and explicitly addresses the issue of pensions and demands the re-opening of talks with government
(c) leads to the development of rank and file links between the NUT and  NASUWT including across schools.
(d) is not used to justify further unnecessary delay in taking action alongside other trade unions seeking to build co-ordinated strike action.
(e) includes far more effective sanctions than those in the existing NASUWT ‘action-short-of-strike-action’

The NUT ballot - to widen our action to include other key issues as well as pensions - opens on June 25 - more news to follow shortly.

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