Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/517/3667
More work for less pay
While teachers' workload remains as high as ever, with an average 50-hour week in primary schools, we are now being asked to take wage cuts for a further three years from September 2008.
Ed Balls, secretary of state for education, announced a general rise of only 2.45% - well below inflation. We have already suffered wage cuts in the last two-year deal, now they want to tie us in to below-inflation wage increases up to 2011 - a total of five years of pay cuts!
With the official cost of living going up by 4%, in reality much higher, and with the prospect of 5% by next spring, they have included a review clause. But the same clause was in the last pay settlement and the government brazenly flouted it.
Teachers in the schools are outraged. Some young teachers are working, in effect, for as little as £8.76 an hour, now only rising to £9, in London (less outside).
They have the legacy of student debt and the prospect of no way of getting affordable housing, so the scene is being prepared for a potentially massive struggle.
Teachers are the first in the 2008 pay round, so all other public-sector unions will be looking keenly to see if the leadership of the biggest teachers' union, NUT, will hold its nerve and go ahead with a ballot for strike action.
For months now the leadership have been promising action. Now it is crunch time.
The NUT executive will have made their decision by the time this goes to press. We fervently hope they vote unanimously for action.
If they do, it could herald joint action across the public sector in the coming months - and give Brown his first real test.
In The Socialist 23 January 2008:
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party campaign news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news