Socialist Worker

Education unions need to ramp up the resistance to stop Michael Gove

by Nick Grant, NUT national executive committee (pc)
Issue No. 2359

Michael Gove went for teachers over conditions of work last week. 

It seems he is not content with having raised our pension contributions and retirement age. 

Not to mention having already frozen our pay, and cranked up the intensity of performance related pay for beginners.

Now, at the start of consultations which will bring statutory changes in 2014, Gove wants to remove all limits on the annual days and hours of work for teachers. 

He is also scrapping lunchtimes and the 10 percent protected time for preparation, planning and assessment. 

These are part of his department’s submission to the annual School Teachers (Pay) Review Body. 

Gove hypocritically claims that teachers would still be left with the “protection” of the European Working Time Directive.

This measure was brought in to supposedly ensure people aren’t overworked, with a limit of a 48-hour week.

But it doesn’t provide protection for teachers. The way hours are averaged outside term-time means they come out with less than the maximum 48 hours per week allowed.

In fact, teachers can work up to 60 hours in term time.

This nonsense talk of being “protected” by Europe comes from a politician who supports withdrawing from it.

Such changes will be the last straw for many teachers of all ages.

They will now want their unions to ramp up action to challenge Gove’s attacks.

Labour’s Stephen Twigg made his first pronouncements last week about what his education policies might look like in 2015. 

They lacked any real challenge to Gove’s plans. 

There was also a complete lack of solidarity with teachers’ unions who are fighting the Tory attacks on education.

Leaders of the NASUWT and NUT have to consider how the current programme of action up to November can be spread deeper and wider in the coming months. 

Every recent teachers’ strike has enjoyed excellent support. Parents largely respect us—as opposed to politicians.


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