By Pat Murphy, Leeds NUT
The new pay structure for teachers affects those who take on extra responsibilities beyond their own class teaching, e.g. heads of departments, heads of year, key stage co-ordinators in primary schools etc.
The old system meant that these people were on management allowances (MAs). A new system changes this to “teaching and learning responsibilites” (TLRs). All schools were required to review their entire staffing structure by 31 December 2005 to abolish MAs and move over to TLRs. This change is affecting the pay and pensions of thousands of teachers. Why?
1. There is a mismatch between the salary levels of MAs and TLRS. For example the lowest MA is £1638 whereas the lowest TLR is £2250. It costs schools more to simply move people across from one to the other.
2. The guidance from the government and the other unions tells schools that the change should be cost neutral and there is an expectation that it will cost less overall.
3. Pre-existing arrangements for safeguarding teachers’ pay have been radically changed. Up until last year a teacher who suffered a loss of pay through a reorganisation or re-structure had the difference between their new post and the old pay protected permanently. Since January this year that protection is for three years maximum. The result is that thousands of teachers are facing pay cuts in time years time when their protection runs out.
Pensions are affected because they are based on a final salary — an experienced teacher in their mid-50s who has an MA but does not get an equivalent TLR could find that their pension is drastically reduced.
Outrageously this was proposed by teacher trade unions in partnership with the government and employers. The only union which did not take part in this deal was the National Union of Teachers. The NUT line is therefore to ballot members for strike action in any school where they face pay cuts and request a ballot. In Leeds NUT, we have had five indicative ballots and two strikes, with another school balloting in early March.
The whole episode is a text-book case of what is wrong with social partnership and why independent militant trade unionism is more effective. The other unions got themselves into this via earlier compromises and they are also remarkably silent on the Education Bill as a result of promises made in a Workforce Reform Agreement that “all partners were committed to promoting the Government's reform agenda”.