Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/850/20407
Pay, pensions, workload
Teachers need national action
Martin Powell-Davies, NUT national executive (personal capacity)
This weekend, delegates at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) annual conference are discussing how to fight government attacks on pensions, pay and workload.
Many teachers celebrated when Cameron's coalition replaced the unpopular Michael Gove as Education Secretary with Nicky Morgan, but government policies stayed the same.
Morgan's letter to unions in March said: "The direction of policy on teachers' pay and pensions ... will not change." She clearly had no more intention than Gove to seriously negotiate.
Performance-related pay (PRP) is also here to stay according to the School Teachers Review Body. Its latest report admits that recruitment and retention problems are growing after years of attacks on teachers' pay, pensions and conditions. Yet it only recommends a 1% increase to the minimum levels of the various pay ranges.
Even their possible 2% 'offer' to teachers at the top of the main pay range comes with the warning: "We would not expect all teachers on the maxima to receive a 2% increase: the full uplift should be awarded only where merited by performance. Some might receive a lower award or none."
It's another divisive twist to PRP. With school budgets facing cuts, one teacher's 2% award could be matched with another's zero increase.
In too many schools, workload is at intolerable levels. The spread of academies helped to undermine collective strength - but the bullying culture that includes PRP, Ofsted inspections and league tables is endemic in many maintained schools too.
Many teachers are bullied into accepting the unacceptable - until they are forced out of their posts. Too many leave teaching altogether.
We can win
Where we can bring members together and channel that anger into collective action, victories can be won. What's needed more than ever is a strategy that brings teachers together in ongoing national action. We need a strategy that can win.
Under the next government, whoever it is, we need to wage a campaign even more determinedly. We should aim to defeat the attacks we face, not just to voice protest. We need a clear set of demands and a plan of action to win them. We need campaigns in every area to convince teachers we can win - and to persuade members to vote for, and take part in, national action.
As one conference amendment says: "lobbying, workload assessments, publicity stunts, casework etc, will not on their own lead to effective changes... the only solution... is a planned campaign of escalating strike action."
- See also Save Our Schools at www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/850/20416
Socialist Party NUT conference meeting
How can we win a real anti-austerity government in Britain?
Monday 6 April, 12.45pm at Cairn Hotel, Ripon Road, Harrogate HG1 2JD
In The Socialist 1 April 2015:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party comments and reviews