TEACHERS IN England and Wales remain adamantly opposed to New Labour's plans for performance related pay, even as their union leaders move to sell them out. That is the conclusion from a special conference of the second largest teachers' union in England, the NASUWT, on Saturday, and from the build up to a week of action by the largest, the NUT.
The general secretary of the NASUWT, Nigel de Gruchy, opened the conference with a plea to delegates to reject calls for industrial action over PRP. De Gruchy's speech went down worse than his addresses to other recent NASUWT conferences. The loudest applause went to delegates who attacked New Labour. Simon Whitney from Norfolk said higher pay was not the issue: 'There is so much pressure in the job. People are saying, 'Give me back my life'.'
NASUWT leaders had to acknowledge anger over workload by promising to campaign against it. But their overall message was to seek compromise. They also pointed to speeches by the leader of the NUT, Doug McAvoy, where he had suggested accepting a slightly modified version of the government's scheme.
NASUWT leaders defeated calls for industrial action by about 60 to 40. But that reflected delegates' lack of confidence in their ability to take the government on rather than them backing their leaders' position. That was also shown by the postal ballot result for the election of the NASUWT junior vice-president. An outside candidate beat two national executive members to become the first person to win the election without the backing of the union machine since 1958.