NUT executive votes against strike action in March despite accelerated attacks on education
The National Union of Teachers Executive Committee today voted 22-20 against strike action in March. An initial date of 13 March had been expected.
The vote will anger many teachers (and apparently already has), especially workplace activists who have been watching attacks on pay, conditions, workload and pensions be accelerated at a rate unseen in most of their teaching lives.
Union leaders in the lead up had muttered mealy-mouthed caution about waiting for the other teachers union, the NASUWT to 'come on board', but the reality is that NUT members do not want to wait. If these attacks are to be defeated it requires action now.
We are facing attacks on many fronts:
PENSIONS - working longer (until 68!), paying in more, to get less in the end
WORKLOAD - with about 2,500 academies and free schools now compared to less than 300 in 2010, many teachers and other staff have found their working hours increasing, with many academies operating 'extended' school days and having 24-7 building opening hours.
PAY - the introduction of 'performance related pay' spells the end for the nationally agreed pay scale. This will result in many teachers never making any pay progression - this move is not about equalising pay across age/experience - it is about depressing pay.
CONDITIONS - academies are now no longer required to employ 'qualified teachers'. Many are advertising for 'assistant teachers'. These people will do the jobs of teachers, for considerably less pay. Nor will they be offered the chance to get a teaching qualification - why a school train someone who'll do the job for much less? Why would they continue to employ qualified teachers who cost more!???
The new 'appraisal' and 'capability' procedures now make it possible to not only deny pay progression, but to sack teachers with little support, intervention and on a shortened time scale.
Again, the 'leadership' of a union shows it's contempt for its rank and file members with its vote against strike action. At a the London NUT reps meeting last weekend, 300 reps all overwhelmingly showed support for strike action, with passionate speeches about the realities we face as workers and students face in schools. The executive gave 'hilarious' speeches about Michael Gove. Now, he's no doubt an ideologue eyeing the Conservative leadership and looking to leave a scar on the education landscape, but the underlying subtext was the it was he who was the problem, with little to no acknowledgement that the acceleration of the academies programme, coupled with free-schools, which is the context within which much of these attacks are enabled, is merely extension of Labour policies, and getting rid of Gove won't be enough of a solution to our multiple problems.
This total disavowal of the rank and file by union 'leaders' will come as no surprise to most of us, but that makes it no less contemptible.