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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 April 2015

Pay, pensions, workload

Teachers need national action

NUT members in Sheffield during the 10 July 2014 public sector pay strike, photo by Karl Lang

NUT members in Sheffield during the 10 July 2014 public sector pay strike, photo by Karl Lang   (Click to enlarge)

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."

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

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In The Socialist 1 April 2015:

Socialist Party news and analysis

No cuts to welfare!

Save our schools

How to fight the anti-union laws

NHS funding crisis deepens

End punitive benefit sanctions now!

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: campaigning for a working class party

Greece: negotiations continue

US: Seattle gets a raise!

Solidarity with Cypriot workers

Tunisia: thousands demonstrate

Elections 2015

Kick out rotten MPs and councillors

TUSC set for TV broadcast

School crossing campaigner stands for TUSC

Gloucester College hustings: Scrap all fees

Defend further education

Socialist Party general election appeal 2015

Socialist Party workplace news

Teachers need national action

Unison special conference votes for new pay claim

London bus companies forced into pay talks

Bolton Uni: reinstate Damien and Jenny Markey!

Leeds: Save our train guards

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party youth and students

Students occupy for free education

Socialist Party comments and reviews

Election 2015 Cameron and Miliband Live

Axing Clause IV: Making Labour safe for capitalism

Working in the NHS: Low pay, cuts and stress

The Great Money Trick: Another World is Possible

The new look Socialist - thumbs up from readers


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