A different type of trade unionism

Submitted by AWL on 20 March, 2008 - 5:02 Author: Nick Raine, NUT South Notts Joint Secretary (Personal Capacity)

This [NUT 2008 Easter] conference comes at a crucial time for trade unionists both in education and across the Public Sector. Both the NUT and UCU are balloting members over the government’s 3 year pay cut, which will hopefully lead to the first national strike over pay for a very long time.

At the same time, other Public Sector unions are involved in similar disputes. As NUT activists we need to seize the opportunity to unite and act with other unions who are fighting the same battle against an increasingly hostile and aggressive government.

However, activists will know the problems we face with the NASUWT/ATL in education. For years, the presence of three teaching unions has been detrimental to our members’ interests — now it could be disastrous for all teachers.

The recent capitulation of the NASUWT in the face of the pay cut was the lastest in a long line of betrayals of the teaching profession. Social Partnership has had appalling consequences for teachers’ pay and conditions as well as eroding union solidarity and democracy. 

The NASUWT’s disgraceful “opinion poll” of members best exemplifies this. After remarking that teachers had had a “better deal” than other workers, the NASUWT sent out a confusing “opinion poll” giving their members several choices of potential action with little direction. Only 14,000 voted. According to the NASUWT, 67% of their members were “dissatisfied” with the pay cut. Chris Keates’ response has been to do nothing.

 This betrayal follows NASUWT support for the loss of UPS4 and UPS5 pay scales, a move which leaves one third of teachers stuck on UPS3 and unable to progress. On top of this, the “Social Partnership” backed the replacement of MAs (Management Allowances) with temporary TLRs (Teaching and Learning Responsibilities) slashing the pay of 30,000 teachers.

They also backed Performance Related Pay and the introduction of unqualified and underpaid Teaching Assistants who are now regularly teaching classes up and down the country at great cost to our children’s education and our members jobs. This has been achieved by ensuring over worked members are ill-informed after selling them out behind closed doors.

As NUT activists we need to fight this. Using the Pay Campaign we need to make sure that NASUWT/ATL members are aware that there is a different type of trade unionism and that unions can be democratic, independent and ready to stand up for their members. We now need to actively recruit NASUWT members in to the NUT to join our fight for better pay, conditions and job security for all teachers.

Together we are stronger!

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