Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/574/7143
National Union of Teachers Conference: Call national action on workload
What kind of a work/life balance is there for any teacher working a 52-hour week? More like all work/no life!
The government promised teachers that our workload would be cut. But even official statistics show that we're still working 50 hours a week and more. Despite the introduction of guaranteed planning and preparation time, the pressure continues to pile up. Just as we make one gain, more gets thrown at us either by government, local authorities or school managers.
After years of complaining, it really is time we put a stop to the abuse of this dedicated teaching workforce. It's not good for teachers, and it's definitely not good for children.
Is a 35-hour week too much to ask? A few years ago French workers went on strike, organised huge demonstrations and won 35 hours for many sections of workers. Isn't it time the NUT did something similar?
Last year, as we have done in previous years, NUT conference passed a motion agreeing to ballot for national strike action on workload. Conference also agreed it could be linked to pay.
Imagine if every school closed for a national strike day (for starters) to show we are not taking this terrible workload any longer, and we want decent pay too. It would lift morale and prepare for a vigorous nationwide action campaign. School-by-school negotiation, and even action, has undoubtedly brought improvements in some places, but national action would carry greater force.
Yet no such campaign has happened yet! One day of strike action on pay went ahead, but unfortunately, was not carried on any further. Moreover, there was no link with workload, as the conference had decided, a link that would have strengthened support for further strike action amongst overburdened teachers.
All that was done was to issue the same workload guidance as in previous years, guidance which really falls short - once again. It leaves schools and teachers to struggle in isolation instead of bringing the whole union together in united action. Even local NUT casework officers are suffering overwork by continually dealing with the fallout from overworked teachers!
The NUT executive must not hesitate again. A comprehensive strategy that links pay, class size and working conditions in a firm campaign of national strike action must be adopted and acted upon.
Classroom Teacher conference meeting
Workload: why we need national action
Saturday, 11 April, 12.45 pm
Sandringham Hotel, St Mary Street, Cardiff
No to the bosses' EU - unions mount election challenge
Meeting hosted by the Socialist Party
Speaker: Dave Nellist, Socialist Party councillor
Monday, 13 April, 8 pm
Owain Glyndwr Pub, St John Street, Cardiff
In The Socialist 7 April 2009:
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news
Socialist Party workplace news