Action needed for hours cut
THE MOST "moderate" of the teachers' unions, the ATL, unanimously passed a motion at its national conference on Monday calling for national action unless the government does something about excessive workloads. All four teachers' unions in England and Wales are debating the same motion calling for an inquiry into teachers' pay and conditions. It calls for "action short of strike action" to limit teachers' working hours if the government does not come up with an inquiry.
Teachers have highlighted the scandalous number of staff vacancies in schools by refusing to cover for them in many areas over the last month. The action has shaken education secretary David Blunkett. He has swung from bullying and threats to acknowledging that there is a problem over teacher numbers.
But on the same day the ATL passed its motion, the leaders of the NUT and NASUWT unions moved to drop the no-cover action. "Some of us delegates here were hoping to get our union to join the action," said a delegate to the ATL conference. "But we have just heard that the NUT is moving to suspend it." The no-cover action has been popular with teachers and parents. "We showed last term that it is possible to begin rolling back the attacks on education launched by the Tories and continued under New Labour," said Anne Lemon, divisional secretary of the NUT union in North Somerset.
"The government is desperate to avoid action in the run-up to the election. We should be stepping up industrial action and campaigning with parents."