The National Union of Teachers (NUT) Executive met on 27 and 28 February to decide whether to strike this term against proposals from Michael Gove to abolish national pay bargaining for teachers.
Unfortunately, the Executive chose to prioritise a continued focus on pursuing joint action with NASUWT, the other large teaching union, rather than striking now. There is no indication that the NUT, with or without NASUWT, will take action in time to fight Gove’s proposals properly.
Supporters of the Local Associations National Action Campaign (LANAC) on the NUT Executive submitted proposals for early strikes as part of a wider campaign of action, and argued for that decision to be ratified and launched at the upcoming NUT national conference (29 March – 2 April). However, this proposal was defeated.
Executive members were instructed not to report the outcome of the meeting or its decisions, allegedly so as not to compromise a negotiation meeting with NASUWT on Monday 5 March. But Monday came and went and no further information was forthcoming. This indicates a lack of regard for the right of NUT members to know what decisions their union’s leading body is taking. Strategic negotiations with other unions should not take precedence over members’ right to hold their elected leaders to account.
NUT members at “pay briefings” around the UK in January and February made it clear that there was a mood for an early fight on pay and that they felt action was necessary immediately – with NASUWT if possible, but without them if not. The Executive majority has shackled NUT members to the pace of a slower, more conservative union, meaning that there may not be any action against Gove’s plans until September 2013, by which time the new pay arrangements will already be in place.
LANAC supporters are now mobilising to submit policy amendments to NUT’s conference to reverse the Executive’s decision and announce a programme of strikes and other action beginning as soon as possible (which, given the current timeframe, is likely to be May).