Tory war on teachers and their unions

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Teachers march on Downing Street earlier this year

THE TORY government issued details about how it intends to use its Minimum Service Levels (MSL) anti-strike laws to wage war against education workers and their trade unions yesterday.

The law requires employers to issue ‘work notices’ to employees instructing them to work during strikes, and MSLs to their unions instructing them to take ‘reasonable steps to ensure compliance’.
A nine-week ‘consultation’ closes on January 30, from when any teacher can be sacked for breaching a work notice and teacher unions can be fined £1 million for failing to deliver a designated MSL.
Schools unions described the plans as a ‘fundamental attack on the democratic freedoms and rights of school staff”.
The ‘consultation document’ issued by the Tories states: ‘The decision to issue a “work notice” to ensure minimum service levels would lie with the employer – in this case schools, academy trusts and local authorities. It will be at the discretion of individual employers whether or not to issue work notices to deliver the MSL.
‘Work notices must specify the people required to work and the work they must carry out to deliver the minimum service level.
‘They must be issued a minimum of seven days prior to the strike day but can be varied by the employer up to four days before (unless a later time is agreed with the union).’
Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, responded: ‘The attempt to impose further restrictions on our democratic freedoms is shameful…
‘The attempt at dialogue was never meaningful. It was disingenuous and cynical. The end of talks was briefed out to the press by Number 10 before the talks ended. Sunak always intended to implement this draconian legislation without consent or mandate.
‘The government cannot stand the fact that the NEU passed the highly restrictive thresholds for strike action, not once but twice, during the recent pay dispute. They now seek to make the legislation even more severe.
‘The proposed MSLs are an affront to those who democratically and legally vote for strike action, forcing a large proportion to go into work on strike days. This is a fundamental attack on the democratic freedoms and rights of school staff…
‘In 2015, Conservative MP David Davis said parts of the Trade Union Bill were more fitting of Franco’s Spain. MSL legislation is being rushed through. The time period of just nine weeks – including the Christmas break – for consultation on the draft regulations is completely inadequate given the number of workplaces and employers covered by these proposals.’
Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT, teachers’ union said: ‘Unions are united in condemning the proposed introduction of politically motivated MSLs in education…
‘Today’s announcement is a shameless and politically-motivated attack from an out-of-touch government on a beleaguered and demoralised profession who, day after day, continue to deliver for our children and young people despite mounting costs to their own mental and physical health.’

  • The TUC has called a Special Congress on Saturday 9th December to organise action to defeat the Tory anti-union laws. It must call a general strike to bring down the Tories now.

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