Sunday 10 March 2013

Three months on - and still no news of action

IT HAS BEEN THREE MONTHS SINCE GOVE ANNOUNCED HIS PLANS TO TEAR APART TEACHERS’ PAY - but unions are yet to mount a serious campaign to stop performance pay.
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Unions haven’t sent anywhere near enough materials into schools to explain the seriousness of these attacks. Three NUT National Executive meetings have come and gone, and still (as of today, 10.3.12) there is no news of when a programme of national strike action will be starting.

Classroom Teacher, LANAC and others have tried to do what we can. The latest Classroom Teacher again tries to summarise these threats for teachers. (See When these details of Gove’s attacks are explained, I have found they are met with anger and dismay - and a recognition that we have to take national action - and soon.

Pay cuts, bullying, longer hours

Teachers know only too well from the bullying, workload, observations and targets that they already endure how performance pay would mean stress, division, pay cuts & teaching-to-targets.

Cash-strapped schools, under pressure from Ofsted to implement Gove’s plans, will make cuts by blocking pay rises.

Recent research for the Trades Union Congress confirms that “teachers work more overtime than any other public sector workers, equating to £7 billion of free labour for schools a year”. Just think how much more teachers will be told we have to do - or face being told we have failed to meet our targets !

Union leaders have to give a lead

Teachers in school meetings and Union briefings that I have attended have overwhelmingly backed the call for an urgent programme of national action. Reports from across LANAC (the Local Associations National Action Campaign) show this mood is repeated nationally. That was clearly shown by the victory of Peter Glover in a NUT by-election. Peter stood on a clear platform that called for “National strike action to stop Gove”.

Teachers will take determined action if their unions give a clear lead. But that call to action has still not been made. Now time is running dangerously short to show Gove that he will have to back down - and to show teachers that their Unions are serious about this struggle.

Next term, Gove’s legislation will be enacted. Schools will then be expected to have new pay policies in place by the summer. We can’t leave teachers just to fight those battles school-by-school. Swift national action is vital !

NUT Conference must call action

On March 20th, civil servants in the PCS will be starting a new programme of national strike action to defend pay and pensions. Teachers should have been joining them - but our action seems to be postponed until next term. If so, action needs to start soon after the holidays - on May 1 or even before.

If the NUT Executive doesn’t propose what’s necessary, then we need to call on our Annual Conference delegates to vote for the action that is required.

LANAC will be organising to seek to ensure Conference sets those dates when it meets in Liverpool over Easter.

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