Left challenge in NUT

Submitted by AWL on 9 December, 2014 - 5:04 Author: Pat Murphy

I am standing for Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) against incumbent Kevin Courtney and right-winger Ian Grayson. I stand for a radically different way of running the union, for a union that is organised from the bottom up not just one that has “left wing” leaders at the top.

Power in the workplace

We can only improve the lives of members if the Union is strong at work. I want to see workplace branches recognised and given democratic power in the Union. Union power comes from workers collectively organising at a workplace level, being able to challenge management on a day to day basis. I stand for one union for all school and college workers; not just for “professional unity” of teachers but a union where we can organise alongside all workers in the same workplace. The union should carry out an oganising drive in all academies. Academy chain members should be able to choose their own representatives and control negotiations with academy chain bosses. There should be a trained rep in every workplace, not just someone who can put up union posters but a trained troublemaker, ready to organise members collectively.

Worst attacks in a generation

The abolition of national pay scale and a ‘work-till-we-drop’ policy which forces teachers to work to 68+, as well as paying more for a worse pension and the endless rise in workload with teachers working 60 hours per week amount to the worst attacks on teachers in a generation.

We have NOT done all that we could to resist these attacks.

Over the past four years there has been no strategy for winning the pensions and pay dispute. Occasional one-day protests have substituted for a serious strategy to beat back government attacks as well as squandering momentum and confidence amongst members. A lack of a vision of how the union can build strength at a workplace level and use creative tactics has hampered the leadership. I argued and organised for an alternative. A quick, intense response when attacked; a calendar of action published to members in advance- members and government should know we are serious; acting jointly with other unions where possible but act alone where necessary.

National Campaign, National Demands

The demands of the campaign have been unclear at best, at their worst involved demanding that “Gove must go” and giving no positive demands of what we want instead of Gove's policies. We should demand a national contract to apply to all teachers in state-funded institutions including academies. The reinstatement of a national negotiated pay scale, an immediate £2000 increase for all teachers. The union should put in a new pay claim every year to cover increase in living costs. A limit on classroom hours and at least 20% planning and preparation time to provide a better education for students.

A teachers' leader on a teachers' salary

If elected I will stay on my teachers' wage. Union leaders should only get a pay rise when they win one for their teachers. As a revolutionary socialist and member of Workers' Liberty I stand for a radically different trade union movement to the one we have today. A trade union movement rooted in the workplace not in union leaders' London offices, with elected and accountable officials on a workers' wage.

I am also part of the Local associations national action campaign (LANAC), a delegate based organisation which argues for a different strategy in the union and organises for it on the ground.

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