Wednesday 6 November 2013

Gove's letter spells it out - no budget, no pay rise

The latest letter* sent by Michael Gove to the School Teachers Review Body on 24 October (just a day before the NUT Executive voted to postpone national strike action), spells out bluntly what Gove wants from his performance-pay legislation:

"Your recommendations have enabled schools to ... ensure that their overall pay bill is affordable within their budget, rather than being tied to year-on-year salary increases".

In other words, if schools haven't got sufficient budget for pay progression and/or pay awards, then they won't have to pay them - even if teachers have supposedly all met their 'targets' ! Of course, to justify these budget-driven decisions, some colleagues will have to be deemed to have 'failed' to make the grade.

With school budgets becoming ever tighter, and changes to the funding formula threatening significant cuts in some areas, that threat will soon become very real. After all, staff salaries are the biggest part of any school budget.

Gone is the pretence that these salary 'reforms' are about allowing accelerated progress up the pay scales. No, for once Gove speaks the truth. Performance-pay is about allowing schools to block salary progression to cut costs to match decreasing budgets. It is also what the school-privatisers are seeking in order to boost their returns as well.

Gove's letter goes on to stress that the STRB needs to consider "the Government's commitment to increasing autonomy for all head teachers and governing bodies to establish pay arrangements that are suited to the individual circumstances of their schools" and "the affordability of any recommendations within the existing budgets of individual schools".

That is surely a clear directive to the STRB to suggest that even the suggested 1% average pay award (compared to RPI price inflation of over 3%) should not be paid to all teachers in all schools - but that this would be up to individual Governing Bodies to consider.

Meanwhile, as prices for utilities and other essential items soar, next April will see the final part of the three pension contribution hikes cutting further into teachers' incomes. For a class teacher in Inner London on U3 - like myself - it is likely that the proposed contribution rate will then increase to over ELEVEN per cent of our salaries!

So we've called off national action for talks about plans for pension robbery and pay robbery, plans which Gove says are 'fixed'. As Gove continues with these attacks, that decision will increasingly be seen to be a mistake. We must return to national action as soon as possible, expose Gove's real plans, and then escalate action to defeat these unacceptable attacks on teachers and education.

* If you think this letter's bad enough, now read about his letter to the NUT and NASUWT on:

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