The National Union of Teachers (NUT) Annual Conference in Torquay yesterday voted unanimously to ballot for strike action against any government move to attack teachers’ national pay and conditions.
‘Priority Motion on Pay’ instructed the NUT Executive: ‘to submit a motion or amendment to the TUC congress to develop maximum unity against any measures to introduce local pay and attacks on pensions.
That, should the Secretary of State put forward specific proposals to attack teachers’ national pay and conditions, the Union should take all appropriate action (including being prepared to ballot for national strike action), to defend them and to seek to take this action in conjunction with as many teacher unions as possible.
‘To seek to build a wider alliance across the whole of the public sector, in defence of national pay and pensions, and in opposition to ongoing pay restraint.’
NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney told conference: ‘Pay rates in different parts of the country would be very bad for the economy. This is about our preparation for a campaign if the government does go down this route.’
Gawain Little, Oxfordshire NUT, warned: ‘This government has a strategy to drive down pay, undermine our terms and conditions and to break up our education system.
‘We need a strategy to defend our members and the generations of children who will pass through our schools.’
Gateshead delegate Tony Dowling said: ‘We need a national strike of the union, of our union and other teaching unions and the trade union movement in general to force back this regional pay and to make sure we don’t have to put up with this dictatorial government any longer.’
Conference also unanimously backed an amendment calling for the union to build campaigning alliances at local level with other unions and anti-cuts groups.
Commenting after the debate, NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: ‘The NUT is completely opposed to the government’s plan to attack national pay and conditions arrangements for teachers.’
She added: ‘The current two-year pay freeze for teachers follows a long period of real terms cuts, when their pay awards were well below inflation and will be followed by a cap on pay. The impact of the pay freeze has already hit teachers hard.’
She concluded: ‘The NUT will seek to work alongside other teacher unions to defend teachers against any proposals to attack national terms and conditions.’
Delegates also voted for Motion 39 to restore Trade Union Rights.
Blower said: ‘The NUT has committed itself to working with the TUC to campaign vigorously against plans to tighten further already draconian anti-union legislation through all available means.’
Following a successful motion opposing Academies and Free Schools, she said: ‘Separating schools from local authorities, and handing them over to unaccountable, unelected sponsors is establishing a market place in which schools compete for pupils and funding.
‘It is time politicians from all parties woke up to this fact and stood up to government to stop this programme.’