THE NUT and NASUWT teachers unions voted overwhelmingly for strike action at their annual conferences over the weekend.
Speaking after the Priority Motion on Pensions was passed at the NUT Conference in Torquay on Saturday, National Union of Teachers General Secretary Christine Blower said: ‘Today, the NUT Conference has endorsed the NUT Executive’s decision to reject the government’s proposed final agreement on pensions.
‘The NUT will seek unity with other unions for further action in the summer term and beyond to defeat the government’s plans.
‘We condemn the government’s attacks on the pensions of teachers and public sector workers and its broader attacks on our living standards.
‘The government’s proposals will lead to teachers paying more, working longer and getting less in retirement.
‘Our members face increased contributions this month and the prospect of a pension age that could well rise to 70 for our youngest members.’
She continued: ‘We will not allow teachers, other workers or pensioners to have their pensions slashed to pay for an economic crisis they did not create.
‘Our campaign has been built on the strength of our membership, who have played a magnificent role in defending teachers’ pensions and fair pensions for all, particularly through the national strikes on 30 June and 30 November and the London strike of 28 March.
‘The NUT Executive will maintain our principled and determined campaign to secure decent pensions for teachers, and fair pensions for all.’
After the passing of a motion calling for strike action against education spending cuts, NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates told the union’s conference in Birmingham: ‘Between 1997 and 2010, levels of education spending increased by over 5% year on year. Now independent analysts have predicted that during the term of this government, spending on education will decline by 3.5% per year.’
The motion stated the NASUWT will ‘use all means at its disposal, up to and including strike action, to protect the employment of members.’
On Sunday, the NUT voted to ballot for a boycott of a new phonics reading test if its results are used in league tables, after calls for a ballot on a boycott of the tests in general were dropped.
The ‘phonics check’ for five and six-year-olds, which is due to begin in June, risks making failures of five-year-olds, warned the union.
General Secretary Blower, said the check would not be good for pupils: ‘Five years old is too young to fail. They will know that they have not got it right and we think that will be demoralising.’
Jennie Harper, a primary teacher from Croydon, told delegates: ‘What concerns me most is that the message being sent to parents is that the teaching of phonics is a magic reading medicine that enables all children to read.
‘All children are different, and there’s no magic one-size-fits-all way of teaching children anything.’