Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

Posted on 21 January 2013 at 18:14 GMT

London teachers call for strike action against Performance Related Pay

Time is short - teachers must act to stop Gove

Martin Powell-Davies, member of the NUT national executive

Nearly 300 National Union of Teachers (NUT) representatives from schools right across the London area packed into the NUT's national headquarters at Hamilton House on 19 January for the London Regional Briefing about our campaign to oppose Gove's Performance Related Pay plans.

The huge turnout on a wintry Saturday spoke volumes about the determination of teachers to fight Gove's attacks.

The frequent applause for reps calling for national strike action also made clear what the meeting wanted the national executive to vote for when we meet again on Thursday 24 January.

Standing room only in NUT HQ

Teachers packing into the Mander Hall were met by the 'Big Brother' face of Michael Gove staring down at them.

As NUT general secretary Christine Blower introduced the discussion, reps were still arriving, as the snow caused some transport disruptions.

More chairs had to be found and, when they were filled, it became 'standing room only'!

Christine went through the detail of Gove's attacks, pointing out that incremental pay progression had been a feature of teachers' pay structures since the 1920s.

Now Gove wants to make all progression dependent on 'performance'. Linking the two main battles we are engaged in, she also pointed out that slower progression up the pay scale through PRP would also mean a lower career average pension on retirement.

Most of the two-hour meeting was then thrown over to the floor and, in a broad and open discussion, rep after rep had the chance to explain their views.

No return to 'Victorian values'

Many speakers pointed out the damage that PRP would cause to education, and how we had to get that message out to parents.

For example, one rep warned that performance-pay would drive even more qualified teachers out of the profession - allowing Gove to get away with his plans to allow schools to employ lower-paid non-teacher qualified staff instead.

To huge applause, an Ealing teacher, echoing the disastrous 'payment-by-results' schemes of the Victorian era, summed up the realities of Gove's plans: "I'll need my seven year-olds to understand every lesson - because if they don't understand, I won't be able to afford to eat".

Louise Cuffaro from Newham was one of a number of reps who explained how the 'brutality' of management in some schools was fuelling teachers' anger.

Another speaker proposed that the union gather together compelling accounts to explain to parents and the press what PRP would mean for schools.

Not just protest action - what about escalating to a 48-hour strike?

Louise, like many other reps, concluded their remarks by calling on the NUT national executive to vote for national strike action - and not just for a one-day 'protest' but for an ongoing programme of action.

There was a clear understanding that one day of action would not be enough. Some reps proposed calling rolling regional strike action but others argued against, pointing out that it was national strike action that really grabbed the headlines.

In choosing between those options, most applause was given to reps who proposed escalating from an initial one-day action to a further 48-hour strike.

While most speakers explained that they were confident of members' support for action, a couple of reps spoke to explain that they were finding it harder to engage members in their school.

The facts and arguments from the briefing will certainly need to be taken out to members in every school, in every NUT association and region.

One rep spoke to say he had be doing exactly that, having been "inspired" by the mood of the meeting - and he won't have been alone.

The NUT executive must vote for action on Thursday!

National executive members were invited to speak at the end of the meeting. I took the opportunity to respond to two issues that had been raised.

Firstly, I agreed that reps had been right to say that we needed to go out and explain our case to the public.

I pointed to the 'message to parents' on the latest Classroom Teacher ( ) as one example of what we could be distributing.

However, I, and other NEC colleagues, called on reps to approach the public with confidence, remembering the support our pensions action in 2011 had received from most parents.

After all, opinion polls show the public trust teachers a lot more than they trust politicians!

Secondly, I responded to the understandable disappointment from some reps that the teachers' union NASUWT had made clear that it was not prepared to take strike action at this stage.

Regrettably, I explained that we had to recognise that its leadership seems unlikely to shift that position at present.

However, if we give a lead, as we did over pensions in June 2011, it may be forced to reconsider. As we were already finding in Lewisham, some NASUWT members may well vote with their feet and join the NUT.

Outer London NUT executive member, Dave Harvey, made a similar point and also spelt out that the executive were considering calling action on 13 March, to coincide with a Europe-wide Day of Action against austerity.

Finally, and above all, I thanked reps for turning out and making their voices clear. The turnout will send an important message to NUT national officers and the national executive: teachers ARE ready to act!

As the meeting drew to a close, Marilyn Bater from the Chair asked those in support of national strike action to raise their hands. The vote seemed to be unanimous! Surely everyone on the NUT national executive will now take note and vote for national strike action when we meet on Thursday?!

All teachers in the NUT should make sure to contact their national executive members before Thursday's meeting and tell them you're expecting them to vote for national strike action to start in March.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 21 January 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 21 January 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

Related links:


triangleHackney Socialist Party: The Left Opposition's fight against the rise of Stalinism in Russia

triangleHackney Socialist Party: Refugee rights

triangleWaltham Forest: Save Our Square public meeting

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: The state - a warning to the labour movement

triangleWest London Socialist Party: The housing crisis - a socialist response


triangleZero new homes 'affordable' in Blairite Manchester

triangleSainsbury's raise really a cut: fight for 10 with no strings!

triangleProfits up Wages down

triangleDetermined UCU strikers: We're out to win!


triangleLecturers strike around country in defence of pensions

triangleTeachers strike again as anti-academy pressure mounts


triangleSpain: millions on streets against sexism and capitalist oppression

triangleStrike continues: set dates for next national action


triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now


triangleWorkplace news in brief


triangleMood for a fightback at education conferences


triangleInternational Women's Day

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Refugee Rights campaigners on the 17.3.18 anti-racism demo - pics


Socialist Party

Socialist Party congress 2018



Strike continues: set dates for next national action


Socialist Party

Members dig deep into their pockets to support the party


North West

Campaigners continue to demand Chorley A&E is fully reopened



Swansea Labour council votes for cuts



Derby public meeting: Women's Lives Matter



Seeing-off the bigoted, billionaire toff!



Continuing the fighting tradition of working class women



Workplace news in brief



Leicester: Blairites block Labour Party democracy



Leaked pay deal: fight for a genuine pay rise



We feel that we will win - a striker speaks



Woolwich ferry workers win automation campaign



UCU strike: bosses on the run

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018