Week #6 Meeting #15
The law is very clear on what trade unions can and cannot take industrial action over. 'Political' strikes are illegal in this country and industrial action is limited to 'legitimate trade disputes' with an employer. This means that it would be illegal for the NUT to take strike action over much of the government's education policy, including testing, curriculum, mass academisation, removal of parent governors, abolishing QTS. Essentially, unions are held in chains.
While we have a clear and legitimate trade dispute over the lack of a national set of terms and conditions that apply in all maintained schools, academies and colleges, and over cuts to school funding which impact on our terms and conditions, these issues are clearly tied in to our wider campaign around education in a number of ways.
This was our main discussion at Bishop Loveday School in Bodicote today.
Cuts to school funding and the recruitment and retention crisis brought on, in part, by the weakening of teachers' terms and conditions, clearly impact on student's learning conditions. As funding is cut, the curriculum becomes further narrowed, exacerbating the impact of the testing and accountability system in turning schools into 'Exam Factories'.
At the same time, the drive to academisation, which will impact so negatively on teachers' terms and conditions, has huge democratic and educational impacts.
In many cases, it is these, not simply the impact on terms and conditions, that exercise our members most. That is why the NUT is campaigning, alongside a broad range of partners, to reverse the current direction in education policy and to develop a new vision for education.
Our strike action fits with this broad campaign but is specifically targeted at one aspect - the threat to terms and conditions. It is by effectively combining these different strands of our campaign that we will have the greatest positive impact, for teachers and for our students.