Thursday 12 December 2013

11 per cent for MPs, 1 per cent for public sector workers

Reporting from the December meeting of the NUT National Executive:

While public anger grows at the proposal that MPs might be given an 11% pay-rise, public sector workers, including teachers, are facing a 1% salary ‘cap’, yet another pay cut in real terms.

As the NUT’s proposed submission to the School Teachers’ Review Body, discussed at the NUT Executive today, points out:
Teachers have now suffered from a long period of below-inflation pay awards. The February 2013 NUT pay submission to the STRB pointed out that since 2005, teachers’ pay nationally had increased by 12.6 per cent but RPI inflation over the same period had increased by 26 per cent – more than double the increase in teachers’ pay … Since the September 2009 pay award, teacher pay nationally has only increased by 3.3 per cent compared to an inflation increase across the same period of almost 17 per cent. The September 2013 teacher pay award of 1 per cent was of course below the September 2013 RPI inflation rate of 3.2 per cent.
Teachers also have to pay higher pension contributions. The Government is increasing teachers’ pension contributions by 50 per cent on average – from 6.4 per cent before April 2012 to an average 9.6 per cent of pay by April 2014. Some teachers will pay even higher increases - those earning £45,000 or more will pay at least 11.0%.

Taken together with the Government’s proposed 1 per cent pay cap in September 2014 and likely RPI inflation - forecast by HM Treasury to be 3.1 per cent  for Q4 2014 - all this means that by September 2014, teachers’ real income may have fallen by more than 15 per cent in real terms. 

The draft submission also points out that “while the rate of inflation has slowed slightly over the past few months, it is likely to increase again shortly … HM Treasury’s most recent Forecasts for the UK Economy show that independent inflation projections for 2013 to 2017 suggest that RPI inflation will remain over 3 per cent to 2017 and hit 3.5 per cent in 2017”.

The recent PISA report also points out that ‘high performing’ countries paid their teachers more and also found a positive relationship between pay for teachers and outcomes for students. 
Neither is the answer to deteriorating salary levels to be found in performance-pay increases. Gove, and some Headteachers, are still trying to claim that the new PRP legislation will allow schools to pay ‘good’ teachers more.  The reality is that restricted school budgets mean that for every teacher who is paid more, several will be paid less! It’s also worth remembering that an earlier OECD study  in May 2012, also drawing on PISA data, found that ‘there had been no relationship average student performance in a country and the use of performance-based pay schemes.’ In short PRP will not help teachers and it won’t help students either.
The continuation of pay and pension cuts, demoralising performance-pay, bullying management and rising workload will inevitably result in continuing problems with teacher retention.  In December 2012, the BBC reported  that, according to official figures, the number of teachers who quit their jobs in English state schools had risen by almost a fifth in one year. In addition, according to the DfE, in 2011-12 more than 13,000 teachers in England and Wales retired before their normal pension age, further increasing the pressure on the future supply of teachers . Yet this is at the same time as we face a significant increase in pupil numbers.
The Government’s attacks on teachers’ pay and conditions are also an attack on education as a whole. The facts are clear – but facts will not change this privatising, cost-cutting Government’s agenda.   It's vital that teaching trade unions announce a clear campaign of ongoing strike action for 2014.

The NUT National Executive today agreed that the National Officers be empowered to confirm a joint day of strike action - which, in line with policy agreed at previous meetings, is to take place 'before 13 February 2014, if insufficient progress is made in discussions with the Secretary of State'.

Look out for further news.

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