NASUWT – Is it still a trade union?

Posted in ClassroomSolidarity's blog on Mon, 31/07/2006 - 20:24,

Increasingly the NASUWT takes on the appearance of a bosses union. Desperate for a place at the negotiating table the NASUWT now appear to have forgotten that the core task of a trade union is to defend the interests of members in the workplace. The workforce remodelling agreement is at the root of this change of direction.
Here in Notts we have now seen several examples of this process in action. Shortly after the remodelling agreement was signed an NUT rep contacted us to report that management in the school was about to cut non-contact time for all classroom teachers by one lesson. As NUT membership in the school was low we immediately sought co-operation with NASUWT. The NASUWT rep in the school, urged on by our rep, wrote to the local NASUWT office. The reply received astounded members in the school. The cut in non-contact time was fine because the new lower amount was ‘protected time under PPA’. In other words, said the NASUWT, less means more.
The introduction of TLR’s represents the most glaring example of the NASUWT acting as outriders for the government and school managements. We have balloted over 10 schools in Notts over TLR’s. One school has taken strike action, three have settled on terms favourable to the NUT and a number are awaiting formal strike ballot results. NASUWT members in schools have invariably wanted to stand alongside their NUT colleagues in preserving pay and conditions in these cases but local officials have given them little if any support. Where the NUT has won concessions NASUWT and ATL members have benefited as a result.
In all schools where balloting has taken place the NUT has seen an increase in membership. Notts NUT has grown by 130 members since the TLR dispute began, the largest in the East Midlands.
A lesser known area of NASUWT inaction is pensions.
Recently on their website the NASUWT made a great play of solidarity with local government workers still in dispute over pensions. Here in Notts a rally in the city was addressed by a representative of the NASUWT. He told the hundreds of assembled local government workers that the NASUWT backed their dispute and wished them success in gaining parity with teachers over pensions. What he did not tell them was that the NASUWT had not balloted their members for action. NASUWT has a number of Teaching Assistant and Soulbury members. By failing to ballot these members - whatever the reasons - the NASUWT was scabbing on a strike it claimed to support.
We often hear calls for a single TUC affiliated teachers union to represent the profession and such a development is potentially a positive step forward for trade unionism. However, unity at any price and, more importantly, unity at the price of selling our members down the river on pay, conditions and pensions, is not worth having.

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