Saturday 23 July 2016

A New Union for Education Professionals

Possibly our most significant decision at this week's National Executive was taken in the last few minutes of the meeting, although it followed a three hour discussion the day before, more than twenty individual days of negotiation and nineteen months of work.

Picture by Ken Sprague

The NUT Executive approved the draft instrument of amalgamation and transitional rules, and has called a special conference for 5th November to discuss forming a new union with the ATL. This is the first of three key decisions which would lead to the creation a new education union, encompassing the current membership of the NUT and the ATL.

The second key decision will be taken at two special conferences on 5th November, one of NUT members and one of ATL members, who will be asked to approve the draft instrument of amalgamation, the transitional rules and a set of rules for the new union.

If this is agreed, it will be put to a ballot of the entire NUT membership, alongside a ballot of the entire ATL membership, for approval. Success at this stage would lead to the formation of a new union within months.

As a member of the NUT negotiating team, alongside the Ex-President, National Treasurer and Chair of Strategy Finance and Communications Committee, I have been involved in every step of the process. I am confident that the proposals we are putting to the special conference will take forward the cause of education significantly and increase the ability of education professionals to make their voices heard and to influence change for the better.

Put simply, a more united education profession means a stronger role for education professionals, parents, students and all those who care about the future of education. It also means a stronger resistance to those who seek to undermine a fully-public, comprehensive education system for all.

However, we want to ensure that there has been full consultation on the detail of the proposals. The proposed rules will be brought to our September Special Executive on the 9th September and will be voted on at our October Executive a month later. The more associations that can meet during September and invite their Executive member to discuss the proposals, the better.

At the end of the day, this is a significant move but one that we desperately need.

As I have previously argued, our aim must be "a highly unionised workforce, united behind a single banner, with a voice in every school and every classroom, and a strong network of support throughout local communities. Because education affects everyone, a strong education union has the opportunity to unite not just the entire teaching profession but governors, local authorities, parents, grandparents, students, and ultimately the whole community.

"As we embark on the fight of our lives, our underlying aim must be to transform ourselves into this force which alone is capable of defeating the neo-liberal agenda and realising our aim of a good local state school for every child."

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