Tuesday, 22 April 2008
Back to the Eighties, NUT style
Schools minister Jim Knight rightly condemns the ludicrous NUT teachers' strike on Thursday. Having got a pay award higher than the rest of the public sector - one that was welcomed by most teaching unions - the NUT (joined by the college lecturers' union) has decided to take the day off on Thursday to protest about the unfairness of it all. Back in the eighties, this sort of pointless strike was pretty common. But most unions - and certainly the other teaching unions - have moved on, recognising that teachers' pay has risen by a fifth in real terms in recent years, workload has been cut and classes have 100,000 extra assistants to improve adult:pupil ratios. NUT acting general secretary Christine Blower cynically maintains that the strike is a 'mark of respect' to the late Steve Sinnott: but while Sinnott backed the strike, he was working to bring the NUT out of its current irrelevance into the DCSF's social partnership. As the unions that make-up that partnership know, they have gained far more for teachers from within than manning the barricades outside. It is time the NUT joined them in the 21st century too.