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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 April 2007

NUT conference

Union leaders out of touch with teachers' discontent

THE NATIONAL Union of Teachers (NUT) conference demonstrated just how many different attacks teachers and education face under New Labour. Workload, teacher stress, the public-sector pay freeze, performance-related pay, management monitoring of staff, academies and privatisation were some of the issues under discussion.

Martin Powell-Davies

The key debates centred on the need for the union to take national strike action. An emergency motion from the union's executive, calling for a ballot for a national one-day strike against Gordon Brown's 2% pay target for teachers was unanimously agreed. Conference also agreed to encourage members to support the civil service union, PCS strike action on 1 May.

However, it was proposals from Socialist Party teachers that the NUT also pursue the PCS' strategy of taking national action over a range of different issues that sparked the fiercest discussion.

Delegates applauded speeches from Robin Pye and Martin Powell-Davies pointing out the limits of only taking school-based action against workload and performance pay. Despite the lack of support from the main left groupings within the union, delegates responded by defeating an executive amendment deleting their call for national strike action to defeat new government performance-management regulations.

It was only when a succession of leading executive speakers were brought to the rostrum that the main motion was also defeated on a card vote. Ian Murch called on delegates to take a "reality check", warning that the NUT hadn't taken national action for over 20 years.

These debates exposed the union leadership's pessimism and how out of touch they are with the discontent within staffrooms. NUT members now have the opportunity to build united national strike action against the pay freeze, but the need for the NUT to have the same fighting leadership as a union like the PCS has never been clearer.

Socialist Party teachers showed that they will be playing a key role in making that change.

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In The Socialist 12 April 2007:

Fight for a socialist alternative

Coventry - Socialist Party's track record


Environment and socialism

'Climate change will hit poorest of poor hardest'

Nuclear power is not the answer

Is the Green Party heading left or right?

Battling over the world's oil reserves


G8 Summit protests

Join the International Youth Camp


International socialist news and analysis

France: Workers need to build a Left alternative


Socialist Party news and analysis

Workers' lives get tougher under New Labour

Campaign for a New Workers' Party

Why legal aid should be defended

Blair silent on Guantanamo


Socialist Party workplace news

Union leaders out of touch with teachers' discontent

NUJ: Build on the victories

Fury at jobs massacre

UNISON and PCS: Vote for fighting, democratic unions

PCS: All out on 1 May


International socialist news and analysis

Zimbabwe: State thugs crackdown on protests


 

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