Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/331/5599
NUT general secretary election
For a fighting leadership of the teachers' union
Socialist Party member Martin Powell-Davies to stand
THE NUT officers' committee in Lewisham has voted to support Martin Powell-Davies for general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in the forthcoming election. Martin is a Socialist Party member widely known both within the national union and locally in Lewisham. The officers have endorsed his candidacy with the following statement:
"FOR TOO many years, successive governments have piled the pressure on teachers. Divisive performance-related pay is in place, workload at an unbearable intensity. Schools face cuts, teachers a pay freeze, pensions are under attack.
But the NUT leadership - including John Bangs and Steve Sinnott - have to share much of the responsibility for failing to stand up to the relentless attacks on teachers and education. We need a general secretary who we can trust to follow up words with the action needed to defend teachers. Martin can provide that leadership.
As both Association Secretary and as a classroom teacher, Martin is in touch with the everyday pressures confronting teachers - and he pledges to remain so. He would remain on the pay of a classroom teacher, using the rest of the present general secretary salary to support education and trade union campaigns. He will make it a priority to visit schools and union meetings.
Martin is the candidate who has a clear programme that can change the NUT. He is an experienced organiser with the abilities to lead our union. As a socialist and trade unionist, Martin has played a major role in many campaigns, both inside and outside the union.
His election would give voice to the discontent of ordinary teachers. His leadership would give NUT members the confidence to stand together in the interests of teachers and education."
Martin's Programme For Teachers:
1. For a general secretary in touch with teachers
A general secretary on the existing salary - of over £100,000 according to the Times Educational Supplement - cannot remain in touch with ordinary teachers struggling to pay their bills.
"I would remain on the pay of a classroom teacher, apart from claiming necessary expenses open to members' scrutiny, using the rest of the existing general secretary's salary to support local, national and international campaigns by teachers and trade unions."
2. Defend members against management bullying
The union has failed to adequately defend teachers against the pressures piled on to them by bullying managers and OFSTED inspections. Teachers need a strong Union to have the confidence to stand up to their unreasonable demands.
"I would make sure that the union puts the resources needed into a campaign to build strong Local NUT Associations and to win the facility time school reps and local officers need to support members."
3. For NUT action to oppose excessive workload and enforce a real "work-life balance"
Teachers are working intolerable hours without adequate protection from either the government's "Workforce Agreement" or the NUT's existing workload guidelines.
"I would push to strengthen our workload action so that NUT members can refuse to carry out excessive planning, assessment and other demands on their time outside the school day and campaign for real reductions in workload, not least to win our demand for at least 20% non-contact time for all teachers."
4. For an end to SATs and league tables
Despite an 86% vote in favour of a boycott, the union has left members in primary schools having to put children through SATs once again. But parental opposition to tests and tables is growing. This must be the start, not the end of the campaign
"I would maintain the campaign against SATs and build for a new ballot so that teachers could successfully boycott these damaging tests."
5. For teacher unity in action - for a campaign to persuade all unions to withdraw from the "workforce agreement"
The government's 'deal' with other teaching and non-teaching unions has done little to reduce our workload or improve support staff pay but everything to allow New Labour to introduce 'teaching-on-the-cheap'. We need to oppose it with action.
"I would support strike action to oppose unqualified staff taking teaching posts and campaign for all TUC unions - teaching and non-teaching - to withdraw from the pernicious Agreement."
6. For the funds needed to meet the real needs of schools. no to the private profiteers
New Labour have left schools without the funds they need to protect jobs, reduce workload, rebuild and repair schools, and genuinely meet the needs of every child.
"I would organise with other TUC unions to link local struggles into a national campaign to oppose cuts and privatisation and defend public services."
7. Defend equal opportunities.
Cuts and selection have continued to undermine equal opportunities. Meanwhile press and politicians have encouraged parents and pupils to blame asylum seekers for their problems. The BNP gain from this racism and disillusionment with the main parties.
"I would encourage NUT members to take up local campaigns against racist and fascist organisations and develop union educational materials for use in schools."
8. The right to retire on a full pension at 60. Improve access to early retirement
While more and more teachers are being pushed to breaking-point by the stress of teaching, the government has announced plans that will force many teachers to work until they 65 if they want to retire with a full pension.
"As a first step, I would demand the TUC implement the national day of action on pensions agreed by Congress and, if they won't, go ahead with unions who will."
9. For national action to oppose performance pay
The union failed to organise a serious campaign to stop the introduction of performance pay and is now standing by while the government introduces a multi-year pay freeze and threatens the future of Management Allowances.
"I would organise a national demonstration as a first step in a national campaign of action to defend our pay and conditions."
10. Oppose New Labour's attacks on comprehensive education. No to selection. No to top-up fees
Teachers have been let down by a Blair government that promised so much but in reality has continued with divisive policies that attack comprehensive education.
"I would step up our opposition to Blair's attacks on education by calling for support for trade union backed candidates standing against New Labour."
11. Taking a stand in the trade union movement
Like thousands of teachers, I was opposed to a war for oil in Iraq which has wasted thousands of lives and billions of pounds that could have been spent on schools and other public services. Yet the current NUT leaders refused to even allow the national union banner on the demonstrations.
"I would make sure that the NUT took a full part in the wider campaigns of the trade union movement while seeking trade unionists' support for our campaigns."
12. Vote for a change
For too long, the NUT has failed to defend members against the attacks we face.
"I will offer a real change from the old leadership and build a union that will be prepared to organise serious campaigns to defend teachers and education."
To support Martin's campaign, see website:
Tel 07946 445488 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In The Socialist 24 January 2004:
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis