Socialist Worker

Union conference is a chance to build pre-emptive action against Tories

by Nick Grant, NUT national executive (pc)
Issue No. 2346

The most popular vote at NUT conference in Liverpool this weekend will be one of no confidence in Tory education secretary Michael Gove.

Michael Gove talks a lot about “rigour”. But he is the rigger—of GCSE grade boundaries, Ofsted inspections and the true value of academies and free schools.

He wants a new curriculum jammed with facts but little useful learning.

And he wants to rig teachers' pay by scrapping the main scale and upper pay spine increments from September.

The few advanced skills teachers and excellent teachers will also disappear as grades.

Chancellor George Osborne confirmed this in his budget speech last week. “We will also seek substantial savings from what is called progression pay,” he said.

Anyone would think our pay goes up every year.

In fact only teachers in their first six years of employment can expect to progress to the top of the main scale.

Now new teachers could be stuck on their current pay for years, subject to the whims of their head teacher.

Most teachers have not had a basic pay rise for three years and are 12 percent worse off under this government.


None of this is news to unions—but they are only now announcing a strategy to stop the attacks.

We must all work to make the joint NUT and NASUWT campaign of action successful. But it is not enough.

Regional strikes won’t start until late June. The only planned national strike might be in November.

Before then pension contributions will have gone up again next month. The new pay structure will be approved in parliament by May.

And schools’ staffing decisions for the new school year will have been sorted.

We need pre-emptive action.

Osborne will return to the subject of public spending in his review on 26 June. PCS union leader Mark Serwotka has called on all public sector unions to strike in protest that day.

The PCS hasn’t yet formally announced a strike on the day. But activists will be campaigning for it to do so—and workers in other unions should support Serwotka’s call.

Teachers also need to strike at least one day before MPs approve the attacks on pay in May.

The NUT can act both with and independently of the NASUWT. Let’s strike soon to stop Rigger Gove.

Vote for these motions at NUT conference

Socialist Worker supporters at NUT conference will be arguing to pass motions on the following:

  • challenging Gove’s new curriculum plan
  • bringing unqualified teachers into the NUT
  • opposing Ofsted, academies and free schools
  • extending the use of the NUT’s political fund
  • defending women’s rights at work and those of disabled, ethnic minority and LGBT members

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Article information

Thu 28 Mar 2013, 13:04 GMT
Issue No. 2346
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