THE Education Secretary Michael Gove has urged school governors and heads that teachers who work to rule are in breach of contract and should have their pay deducted.
In a letter to head teachers, Gove describes teachers working to rule as ‘highly irresponsible’.
He is determined to privatise education, through pushing forward privately managed and sponsored academies and state-sponsored, privatised Free Schools. These set their own wage rates and conditions and do not even have to employ qualified teachers.
Gove is determined to pick a fight with the teaching trade unions. He sees them as the principal barrier to the privatisation of education and wants them crushed.
The work-to-rule is being taken by the members of the National Union of Teachers and NASUWT.
The action includes not attending school meetings and some extra-curricular activities, and not filling in forms or covering for absent staff.
Chris Keates of the NASUWT said yesterday that ‘Not one single day of children’s education has been disrupted.’
This assurance has not had the slightest impact on Gove who is furious with the trade unions and anxious to do battle with them.
Gove says in a letter to heads about the work-to-rule that, ‘The NUT and NASUWT have issued a series of 25 instructions setting out activities which their members should refuse to undertake.
‘The vast majority of schools are currently unaffected. A small number, however, are starting to see a severe impact and where this is the case, I believe a robust response is needed.
‘I would be very grateful if you could support your school(s) in taking a robust response, including through pay deductions where appropriate,’ writes Mr Gove.
Gove obviously has a raft of counter-measures in mind, including victimisations and sackings.
The teaching unions have been very clear about the fact that they choose to work to rule to avoid disruption of their pupils’ education.
The NUT’s Christine Blower commenting on Gove’s letter said: ‘This is a continuation of Michael Gove’s war on teachers. One might well ask why Michael Gove is releasing this advice now, three months into our action.
‘We believe it is to distract attention from the GCSE regrading court case, the isolation that Michael Gove finds himself in over the proposed English Baccalaureate Certificates to replace GCSEs and his forced academies policy.’
Chris Keates said: ‘The secretary of state is recklessly encouraging schools to take punitive action against teachers on the basis of advice which is littered with caveats and ambiguities and which demonstrates quite clearly that the secretary of state is unable to state categorically that any action being taken by NASUWT and NUT members is in breach of contract.
‘In the light of this, any school which acts on his advice leaves itself vulnerable to extensive and expensive litigation and escalation of industrial action.’
She repeated that ‘not one single day of children’s education has been disrupted’ during the work to rule.
These comments have been rejected by the Department for Education which promised to support schools that took sanctions against the industrial action.
Gove has also called on Labour to join him in condemning the action.
In response, the shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, has joined Gove’s class war: ‘We made clear months ago that we oppose this industrial action being taken by the NUT and NASUWT. It is not right that schools and pupils should be affected in this way.’
Gove is in fact waging the class war, as is the coalition as a whole, with its drive to smash the NHS and the Welfare State, and its description of workers on benefit as scroungers.
There is only one way to deal with Gove and the coalition. If just one teacher is disciplined or has their wages cut, all of the teaching unions must stop work. They should be supported with strike action by the whole trade union movement. The time has come to put the coalition out.