Why the NUT are taking strike action – Article for the Daily Post

12 Feb

Below is the article I wrote for the Daily Post Education Supplement following the announcement of NUT strike action to take place in March.  Bit of a squeeze getting the points across in 500 words.  Perhaps I’ll do a more detailed blog in the future.

school-strike_2662168b

Make no mistake, no wants to be on strike and losing a day’s pay on March 26th.  Industrial action, especially when there is an impact on pupils and parents, is always a last resort.  However, the simple fact is teachers across Wales cannot sit back and accept the current attacks on the profession, and by extension, on education in Wales.

So why strike?   The changes to pay and pensions that are being forced on teachers by Michael Gove and the Westminster Government are making it more and more difficult to attract and retain graduates to the sector.  A YouGov opinion poll in January found that morale in the teaching profession continues to fall and almost three quarters (74%) of teachers say their morale has declined since the last general election.  52% of teachers are less likely to stay in the profession as a result of changes to teachers’ pay and pensions, while 57% are less likely to stay as a result of changes to teacher’s conditions.  The Government are demanding that teachers pay more into their pensions, receive less and have to work until at least 68; an age at which many in the profession fear they will not be able to provide the current standards they expect of themselves for their students.  Changes to pay, which international studies show will not improve standards, will create divisive working conditions that have a detrimental impact on education provisions.

We shouldn’t forget also that the NUT has done everything that it possible could to avoid any further strikes taking place.  National strike action was cancelled in November.  Strike action scheduled for February was postponed and while other regional strikes were taking place throughout the UK at the end of last year, as a result of progress in engaging with the Welsh Government, strike action here in Wales was avoided.

It has been 17 weeks since the NUT and NASUWT met with government officials.  While teachers have been trying to find a way forward the Westminster Education Secretary has put obstacle after obstacle in the way of talks, showing no serious attempt to resolve – or even to discuss – the matters in dispute.  Michael Gove is refusing to discuss the substance of our dispute which deals with the reality of teachers concerns. As regrettable as the situation is, this has forced the NUT into announcing a strike, which is not just justified but necessary, to take place in March.

The strike action can of course be called off. The power to avoid this disruption is in the hands of the Secretary of State.  If he provides reassurances that he will not go ahead with any changes which worsen teachers’ working conditions and commit to serious and substantive talks on the other elements of the dispute, including on pay and pensions, he can stop the strike from taking place.

The responsibility for this situation lies fairly and squarely at the door of this intransigent Education Secretary. It is time he changed his attitude and listened to the genuine concerns of teachers.

I’ll post a link to the article on the Daily Post website if and when it appears.  I am assuming that it did go in yesterday but sadly the Daily Post doesn’t reach us in Cardiff anymore so I’m not 100% sure.

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