School’s out for Spring?

Not quite:

Teachers to ballot for action on below-inflation pay offer
by Sadie Robinson

The NUT teachers’ union will ballot its members for strike action over their below-inflation pay offer.

The offer, announced last week, would give teachers 2.45 percent this year, and 2.3 percent in 2009 and 2010. As inflation is currently 4 percent this would mean a pay cut for teachers.

Activists in the NUT are confident that they will win a yes vote in the ballot, which starts on 28 February. Across the country there is massive anger among teachers over many issues including pay.

For the last two years teachers have received a pay rise of 2.5 percent. They had hoped to get a decent pay rise this time to make up for this. The fact that they have been given a pay cut by Gordon Brown has added to a widespread feeling that teachers are undervalued by New Labour.

Recent pay rallies have reflected some of the anger that exists among teachers. Many teachers face increasing workloads, bureaucracy, testing and cutbacks in their schools, and feel that the pay offer is the final straw.

The issue of pay can bring teachers together and will have a wider impact as Brown tries to impose his pay freeze on the public sector as a whole. Further education lecturers in the UCU union, for example, are also fighting a below-inflation pay offer and are hoping to take joint action with the NUT.

Teachers are now organising to win a yes vote in the ballot. Organising joint union pay rallies and meetings in schools where the NUT is weaker will be a key part of their strategy. A yes vote could see a national strike on 24 April – the first for more than 20 years.

And what of the NUT’s political fund?

NUT: vote ‘Yes’ for a political fund
By Ed Doveton (Wakefield NUT)
Monday, 21 January 2008

Last year’s conference of the National Union of Teacher’s voted to ballot members of the union to vote in favour of setting up a political fund. This successful vote was a significant advance for the largest and traditionally more militant of the teacher trade unions. While other education trade unions, such as the UCU and even the NASUWT already have political funds, the NUT has remained without. Consequently it has been limited in terms of the political influence it could exert through the use of such a fund.

Although the proposal is not asking the union to affiliate to the Labour Party, the new fund will enable the union to campaign and advertise, both year-on-year and during election campaigns. The union will be able to raise issues important to education in the UK and be more directly active in persuading people to vote or not to vote for a political party.

A postal ballot member’s on the political fund proposal is now going to take place in January 2008. All members of the union should be arguing in their workplace for a Yes vote which will increase the union’s ability to be a campaigning organisation in defence of member’s interests, fight against privatisation and argue the case for improved education in the country.

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