Thursday 5 June 2014

Answering My Critics - Staying on a Teacher's Salary

On today's evidence, some of my opponents seem to have decided that they'll be bombarding critical tweets in my direction throughout the campaign!

They're welcome to do so - and I'll respond when I can. However - and as I suspect they'll be reading this blog - I can't promise to always post replies as quickly as the tweets come in! My day-job of supporting and advising teachers, organising Union campaigns in Lewisham and teaching have to come first. 

140 characters on Twitter also isn't the best way to respond in the detail that my critics seem to be wanting - so I'll use this blog when I can to explain my case more fully.

Let's start with today's debate about my pledge to remain on a classroom teacher's salary if I am elected NUT General Secretary.

Andrew Baisley, one of the organisers of Christine's campaign, tweeted me @MPDNUT to say that "I notice that you aren't pledging to give salary back to the NUT but give [to] some of your fav causes. Who will be getting the money?"

First of all, I'm not sure how you could object to a trade unionist who has chosen to voluntarily donate back salary to the movement choosing to give it to causes that she or he favours! However, if it's a genuine question, then it's not an accurate one. I've already explained further on my blog about this campaign pledge:

8. Remain on a classroom teacher’s salary

A Union leadership needs to show its members that it is in touch with the problems they face. If elected NUT GS, I would want to be seen as a teacher who is speaking up for classroom teachers.

Following the example of the new leadership elected to the Chicago Teachers’ Union, I believe that the salaries of Union officials should be linked to the salaries of the members they represent. There is increasing distrust of politicians, and some senior managers, who seem happy to award themselves large salaries and expenses while others are finding it hard to pay their bills. That’s also one way that officials can get out of touch with their membership. Any such suspicion can undermine union strength, particularly when politicians are trying to find ways to divide opposition.

I pledge that, if elected NUT GS, I would continue to take only my existing classroom teacher's salary, with any additional essential expense claims fully open to members’ scrutiny. I would donate the considerable additional salary that the General Secretary is entitled to under current NUT rules towards trade union and solidarity campaigns and to assist the work of the Union.

Now there would be no shortage of good trade union causes, strike funds and international solidarity appeals that could benefit from financial support. Which particular causes would obviously depend on particular disputes and appeals current at the time - but I would of course consult with colleagues and welcome suggestions. I would also make sure that details of that expenditure was open and available to anyone who wanted to see it. Of course, following the example of Chicago, I would also want to see if there were specific NUT projects that could be supported from money that I could return to the Union in this way.  

Concretely, my current salary as an Inner London UPS Teacher is £45,450. Looking at the information on the NUT website ( ), my pledge to donate additional salary might generate £50,000 or more (I have no information on how the additional pension package operates). If elected, that's the kind of sum that would be donated back to the Union and the wider trade union movement through my pledge.

UPDATE: It was remiss of me not to add yesterday that one of my 'fav causes' at the moment is the British Heart Foundation after the fantastic support given to Lewisham NUT Treasurer, Lawrence Stevens, by staff at St.George's Hospital in April. Next weekend, I'll be cycling from London to Brighton for British Heart Foundation because, as I've put on my justgiving page, "Lawrence from Lewisham NUT could be any one of us". Donations would be very welcome via

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