Chancellor George Osborne announced the end of national pay levels for teachers in his autumn statement last week.
Ministers can expect outrage from teaching unions that are fed up of constant attacks. The announcement was based on the latest report from the school teachers’ pay review body (STRB). It was combined with Osborne’s statement for political effect.
Currently teachers have a national pay structure. It means that teachers are paid the same wherever they are. It also means that teachers who move to a new job are entitled to start at their existing salary level.
Now schools will be free to set pay levels anywhere within set top and bottom limits. “Performance management” will be cranked up so that some teachers can be kept at a low level of pay for years. Teachers won’t be able to take their existing pay level to new jobs.
The changes will intensify the culture of fear and subordination in schools. It will also substantially cut the overall national pay bill.
The NUT union estimates that teachers will have lost an average of 12 percent of their income between the start of the coalition government and September 2013. This rises to 16 percent a year later.
The STRB rejected education secretary Michael Gove’s plan for regional pay. The headteachers’ NAHT union welcomed the proposals because of this. But the proposals mean an even worse scenario for teachers.
The NUT’s national executive committee was set to meet on Thursday of this week. We have no choice but to announce a series of national strikes against this draconian attack on our pay. Unity is vital and I hope other unions will join the battle.
The NUT was founded in 1870 to oppose the system of paying teachers by results. Far from being the moderniser that he claims, Michael Gove wants a return to these Victorian times.
Gove doesn’t give a damn about the quality of most children’s education. 2013 will no doubt see a running battle with him to stop the clocks being turned back.
Big meetings show teachers’ mood to fight
Teachers have wasted no time in responding to George Osborne’s attack on their pay. Their message is clear—they want their union leaders to call a programme of national strikes fast, with or without other unions.
Many have held big school meetings at short notice in response to Osborne’s attack. Around 70 teachers came to one school meeting in Swindon and unanimously backed strikes. Some 48 came to another at Greenford High School in Ealing, west London.
“The meeting was called at less than 36 hours notice,” said Stefan, a teacher there. “It unanimously passed a motion calling for national strikes—with or without the NASUWT union. There were no dissenting voices.”
The motion called on the NUT executive “to organise an escalating programme of national strikes with all the dates declared in advance”. It added that the first date must be called before spring half term.
The North Yorkshire divisional committee of the NUT has also voted to call for strikes in January. Anne Lemon, an NUT executive member in Bristol, has received several emails from teachers demanding action.
Many point out that NUT members have clearly voted for national strikes. The sentiment is clear—”Enough is enough”. And teachers in many areas were preparing for school protests on Wednesday of this week.
The Tories are preparing for open battle against teaching unions. One Department for Education source said the Tories aimed to “change the culture and break the destructive power” of the unions. Teachers have to respond with a strong programme of action that can smash the attacks.