Teachers protest at New Labour
No to competition
"PEOPLE ARE being managed, not represented, in every area of their lives. We are all sick of being managed in the interests of capitalism." Hundreds of teachers erupted in cheers as left wing Labour MP Tony Benn spoke at a rally in central London last Saturday. It came after a magnificent 1,000-plus march against New Labour's payment by results scheme. The demonstration was called by the campaign School Teachers Opposed to Performance Pay (STOPP). This was the largest and most buoyant unofficial teachers' march for years. There were 44 banners on it representing schools and branches of the National Union of Teachers.
Heather Bottomley, a primary school teacher from Barnsley, told Socialist Worker, "The stress in the job is just incredible. You wait until the holidays to allow yourself to take time off sick." Maureen Raud from Devon has been teaching for 25 years: "I came into education to develop children's creative capacities. Now we are being told what we can teach, how we can teach it and when. The payment by results scheme will mean pressure on teachers to concentrate only on those who will make the grade and lead to a pay increase," said Suzanna Billeter. "Equal opportunity will go out the window."
Speakers at the rally hammered home the same message, that this is not simply a fight over teachers' pay. It is against the "commercialisation of society". Everyone on Saturday's march committed themselves to pushing for strikes against the pay scheme. Teachers were to lobby the NUT executive on Wednesday of this week.
- STOPP campaign conference, Saturday 18 March, South Camden Community School, central London. Contact STOPP, c/o 65 Glenarm Road, London E5.