Sunday, November 25, 2007
The results of the NUT election for vice-president have been announced. Whilst you’re waiting with bated breath – a brief guide to the political groupings. The ‘moderates’ in the union are organised in the secretive ‘Broadly Speaking’ group, although confusingly many of the leaders are ex-members of the Communist Party. On the left the Socialist Teachers’ Alliance (STA) and the Campaign for a Democratic and Fighting Union (CDFU) usually cooperate together in elections.
In the vice-presidential elections Martin Powell-Davis stood on an independent platform - for national strike action over pay. During the transition from Management Allowances to Teaching and Learning Responsibilities (TLRs) there were strikes in over 100 schools where union members were set to lose pay. However, according to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), on a national scale, over 30,000 teachers will suffer pay reductions as they lose allowances over the next few years.
The voting figures (top two elected) were-
Goodswen 6,792 (CDFU)
Reed 5,603 (Broadly Speaking)
Harrop 4,084 (Broadly Speaking)
King 3,973 (STA)
Powell Davis 2,473 (For National Action)
Roberts 2,167 (One Union for Teachers)
The main feature of the election was the abysmal turnout, only 10% of union members voted. In part this is due to the general apathy in the teaching profession – will it make any difference if we vote in elections? There are also the years of inactivity where the teacher unions have become ineffectual insurance societies, they deal with members individual grievances, treating the symptoms but not the cause. Unions if they mean anything, should be there to take collective action in order to defend their members – you can break one stick but not when they are tied together.
The NUT have called some meetings this week over pay, however a Special NUT Executive Meeting was cancelled because the School Teachers’ Review Body were not due to report, this despite the fact that the government have given fairly clear indications that public sector pay rises will be restricted to low amounts. Unison members in the public sector ballotted but there was a low turnout and with only a narrow majority for strike action, the Unison national committee voted to accept the 2.475% offer.
Voting in elections doesn’t actually change anything but it is important to have people who will speak out on issues. Above all we need unions that are worthy of the name and not weak, feeble, inept insurance societies.