An alternative for teachers

Submitted by Matthew on 30 April, 2014 - 12:11

Two out of every five teachers leave the profession within their first five years of teaching - a shocking indictment of what we are up against.

Most teachers cite excessive workload and the oppressive culture at work as the main reason for quitting, though having to work longer and pay more for a worse pension, and having a real term pay cut hardly helps.

With performance pay coming in big-time in September, more rocky times lie ahead. So we need to call a spade a spade.

The Stand Up For Education campaign has failed to galvanise our staffrooms in such a way as to give teachers the confidence to stay around to fight Gove’s attacks.

It might be unfair to put all the blame for this on the current General and Deputy General Secretary, but where leadership was called for, instead we have prevarication and demobilisation.

So the GS and DGS elections provide an opportunity to urgently discuss a serious alternative strategy to the current impasse.

In seeking re-election to GS in her letter to Divisions and Associations, Christine Blower makes central the “unprecedented” and “historic declaration of joint working with the NASUWT”.

In contrast, the letter from Lewisham NUT seeking nominations for Martin Powell-Davies for GS points out the lack of a clear plan following 26 March and that “we need a far firmer stand from our union”.

Likewise, the letter from Leeds NUT which invites nominations for Patrick Murphy for Deputy General Secretary highlights the lack of momentum in our campaign, “the result was that Michael Gove felt emboldened to attack our national pay arrangements.

“Unprecedented attacks on pensions and our pay required a different approach to NASUWT. The desire to persuade the NASUWT to join our action campaign is wholly understandable. This has, however ... been allowed to override the need to develop a plan of action powerful enough to win.

In four years of attacks we have had one national joint strike with NASUWT. Since the launch of the partnership ... we have had not a single day. By any measure that is a failure.”

Both the GS and DGS elections can be seen as a barometer on the campaign. On the one hand, is the non-strategy of limping along with an occasional one-day strike which at best is a “protest” action against the Government.

The other alternative provides an opportunity to give leadership to this campaign, to help revive it, and to really “Stand Up For Education”.

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