Update on the NASUWT trade dispute
Earlier this month I wrote to you setting out how we were progressing our trade dispute with Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove on pay, pensions, conditions of service, workload and job loss. I summarised the successes many of you had achieved through our industrial action strategy, particularly in securing pay and performance management policies which complied with the NASUWT and NUT joint pay and performance management checklists and in defending your conditions of service.
I also said that I would keep you updated on any developments, including on the efforts we were making to secure constructive dialogue with the Secretary of State and Department for Education (DfE) officials to seek to resolve our trade dispute. This letter also includes the latest position on changes to conditions of service.
Meetings to resolve the trade dispute
In October 2013 the Secretary of State offered meetings with the NASUWT and NUT to discuss our trade disputes.
Both unions responded positively to this invitation to meet to discuss a programme of talks and met with DfE officials on 14 October to discuss the shape and content of these talks.
In good faith, to enable these talks to progress, the NASUWT and NUT withdrew a day of strike action planned for November 2013.
The response of the Secretary of State was, however, to seek to change the terms of engagement, previously offered for meetings with the NASUWT and NUT, by widening the participants to include all other teacher unions and an insurance company, EDAPT, set up as a union-busting organisation.
All teacher unions, including the NASUWT and NUT, wrote to the Secretary of State in response, opposing the inclusion of EDAPT in any talks, stating their willingness to engage in discussions with the Secretary of State and his officials on policy implementation, and emphasising that the NASUWT and NUT should be given the opportunity for separate discussions about their trade disputes.
Instead of responding positively, the Secretary of State confirmed his previous position.
All teacher unions, therefore, wrote to him again on 20 January, putting forward constructive proposals which would have enabled discussions to proceed. These included separate talks for the NASUWT and NUT.
In addition, the General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, met with the Secretary of State and put forward measured and reasonable proposals which would have enabled talks to progress with all organisations, recognising the need for distinct discussions with the NASUWT and NUT.
The Secretary of State responded on 24 January in a letter which continues to resist dispute resolutions talks with the NASUWT and NUT, despite the representations made to him by the NASUWT and NUT, other unions and the TUC.
The Secretary of State’s failure to respond positively to our genuine attempts to seek a resolution to our trade dispute is profoundly disappointing to teachers and shows contempt for the profession and the issues with which teachers are struggling every day while continuing to provide high-quality education.
The NASUWT remains committed to securing dialogue and we are currently considering seeking the involvement of Acas. However, we are equally committed to continuing to challenge the relentless attacks the Secretary of State has mounted on your pay, pensions, conditions of service and jobs, and with your continuing support to defend the interests of members and the profession through our industrial action strategy.
Changes to conditions of service
The publication of the 23rd Report of the School Teachers’ Review Body on the conditions of service of teachers across England and Wales is expected any day now.
This Report could have profound adverse implications for teachers’ working conditions, including the length of the working year and day, holiday entitlement, cover, planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time and other important conditions of service.
Members must stand ready to make a strong response by ensuring now that they are following fully the current action short of strike action instructions and being prepared to respond to any escalated action that the NASUWT National Action Committee may call if the School Teachers’ Review Body Report and the Secretary of State’s response to it worsen your contractual conditions of service.
The NASUWT’s National Action Committee is closely monitoring the situation and will meet again on 6 February to review the position.
Thank you for your continuing support.
Chris Keates (Ms)