Tuesday 5 November 2013

Building local action to oppose unacceptable pay policies in Lewisham

Two days back at work, and any half-term respite already seems long gone. As one NQT commented at a union meeting tonight "they want us to work like cyborgs" - before he rushed off to carry on his planning and preparation for yet another evening.

The NUT Office inbox and voicemail has filled as usual with appeals for support from harassed NQTs, teachers facing capability, teachers questioning their excessive workload and so on. As ever, we will do what we can to defend these colleagues but there's one lesson that teachers need to learn - these battles are becoming ever harder to win just as individual casework. What's needed to stop this flood of stress, bullying and overwork is collective action.

That overworked NQT was going home to carry on working - but he was leaving from a union meeting that had just voted unanimously to support a three-day strike to oppose the imposition of an unacceptable pay policy. That overwhelming support for action had been repeated at two other school meetings that I attended yesterday, and at  a primary school meeting this morning. I am confident that there will be similar support shown at two further meetings tomorrow - resulting in a request from six different school groups to take part in sustained strike action against the imposition of pay policies,  as part of our overall dispute against Gove's performance-pay legislation.

The action is being proposed jointly by both the NUT and NASUWT under our existing ballots and the ATL have also offered to ballot their members should our action have to be prolonged. 

We hope that won't need to be the case. Rather than face the threat of strike action, we hope schools will agree to adopt the amendments to Lewisham's model pay and appraisal policies that some other schools have already adopted. However, if action is required, the mood of determination at the school meetings was clear - then the action will go ahead. 

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