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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 December 2012

Gove goes to war on teachers' pay

The attack on teachers' pay unleashed by education secretary Gove is a declaration of war on teachers and teaching unions.
National Union of Teachers (NUT) executive member Martin Powell-Davies explains why on his blog: electmartin1.blogspot.co.uk. This is an extract.

We have to urgently announce a programme of escalating national strike action in defence of teachers' pay - and call on other trade unionists and parents to support us in a battle to defend education from a government intent on ruling schools by fear and intimidation and on cutting costs to help accelerate school privatisation.

Gove wants all progression up the pay scale to depend on performance-related appraisal decisions.

After two years of a pay freeze, Gove has announced that schools could also opt not to award next year's paltry 1% annual increase. This leaves teachers open to attack by bullying managers.

Moving jobs could mean moving back to the bottom of the pay scale. With school budgets being squeezed, Gove wants the 'market' to be used to enforce pay cuts as teachers are forced to compete for posts by offering to be paid less than their colleagues.

Gove has also made clear that these attacks are just the start. He wants a "second stage of reform" to follow - which would be the complete deregulation of pay and conditions.

The NUT press release said: "Our members will not see this as anything other than a further attack on their pay and conditions. Pay and pensions are at the heart of the current disputes with the secretary of state.

"Together with the NASUWT, we represent nine out of ten teachers who will be appalled by these proposals, coming as they do on top of pension contribution increases. We will be meeting with them next week to discuss the way forward."

Those talks need to result in an immediate decision to call an urgent joint national strike, as the first day in an escalating programme of action.

The NUT national executive meets on 13 December.

Backed up by the policy agreed by TUC Congress, teaching unions should also plan to coordinate strikes with other unions looking to take action next year, such as the PCS civil service union who have just announced a new national ballot for action over jobs, pay and pensions.

Michael Gove may have made a major miscalculation. He has assumed that the failure of the NUT and NASUWT leaderships to take further national action over pensions means that teachers are not up for a fight.

But if a clear lead is given and a clear plan of action spelt out, then teachers will respond overwhelmingly to a call to national strike action.

We need to make sure that teachers go off to the Christmas break knowing that we are gearing up for decisive action in the New Year. If we let these 'pay-by-performance' attacks succeed, then teaching will become a completely demoralised and divided profession.

Our action campaign has to be combined with a campaign to explain to the public why these attacks will damage education and why parents and teachers need to fight together against Gove's attempts to divide and dismantle locally accountable comprehensive education.

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In The Socialist 12 December 2012:


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