Teachers unions announce industrial action plans
Today the two largest teaching unions, NUT and NASUWT, who represent the majority (90%) of school teachers in England, announced plans to begin action short of a strike on 26th September.
Both unions had an existing mandate for strike action over pensions, resulting in strikes on June 30 (NUT) and Nov 30 (both alongside over 20 other unions) in 2011, and regional action by NUT in London on March 28th this year. NASUWT already had a vote for action on pay and conditions, while NUTs ballot for both strike action and action short of a strike, regarding pay & conditions, closed last Thursday:
- 92% in favour of action short of a strike
- 83% in favour of strike action
So far NUT members have not received any information from the union regarding the proposed action short of strike on September 26, and it is not clear form it will take, but the BBC reports that:
'The industrial action will include a work to rule, not attending school meetings and some extra-curricular activities, not filling in forms or covering for absent staff, and refusing to invigilate on public exams including Sats and GCSEs.'
The Guardian quotes Kevin Courtney, the NUT deputy general secretary:
"The action is intended to be pupil, parent and public friendly, whilst resisting government policies which are undermining teachers' ability to work effectively to deliver the highest standards of education."
Apparently it will be targeted at management rather than pupils, with after-school clubs continuing.
The reports adds:
However, teachers will be asked to boycott unscheduled management meetings, refuse to hand in lesson plans to school managers and permit no more than three lesson inspections by headteachers per school year.
"What we are looking for is actions which don't hit real education but hit at overwork and crazy accountability," said Courtney. A list of work-to-rule actions includes refusing to cover for absent colleagues, declining to supervise pupils during lunchbreaks and writing only one annual report to parents.
The dispute "could escalate into a strike if a School Teachers' Review Body report into pay and conditions leads to a crackdown on wages. "If the government does not listen we are intending to move to strike action," said Courtney."
There is as yet no indication regarding strike dates should they happen.
The joint action is a result of the declaration in May from both unions committing to combined action over pay, pensions and conditions.
I'm somewhat positive of the potential but I do worry that this will end up a damp squib like the NASUWT's work-to-rule last year, which was completely unco-ordinated and rarely enforced judging by teacher comments and its impact.
It has real potential if combined with strikes, but with 2000 academies in England secondaries now, it will require a real focused effort to make this action as powerful as possible.