UNISON: leadership defeated on schools debate

Submitted by Anon on 17 July, 2004 - 7:22

By a delegate

At UNISON's local government conference on 21 June delegates overturned last year's decision to take part in the 'remodelling agreement' for schools. Delegates spoke about how the government had not stumped up the funding necessary to make the agreement a success: this was teaching on the cheap.

One resolution said that teaching assistants had been 'pushed and bullied' into taking whole classes - the job of a qualified teacher at a third of the wage.

UNISON's involvement in remodelling is now to be renegotiated, drawing up national pay and grading structures for classroom assistants with proper career structures.

If the government refuse to negotiate UNISON is committed to launching a campaign, including industrial action, to demand extra resources for education and an end to low pay in the classroom.

This decison brings the National Union of Teachers and UNISON closer together, allowing activists from both unions to work together to defend the conditions of all staff working in schools. It is a major blow to the leadership of UNISON's local government sector and an even bigger one to the Government who wanted to use the remodelling agreement to drive down the cost of the education budget.

The local government service group were also partially defeated over pay. They had presented a derisory 8.7% 3 year pay offer to the membership and launched a consultation to branches during conference, thus ensuring most activists would be absent!

They ruled out 2 emergency motions on pay arguing that the consultation must be carried out first. Delegates forced the motions back onto the agenda. The top table then deliberately filibustered so there was no time to vote on the motions.

The leadership could not be unaware of the level of anger amongst rank and file activists at the shoddy and undemocratic treatment which denied them the right to vote on their own pay at their own conference.

The other motions on pay defeated the leadership. There is a rise in militancy and anger amongst members of the union representing the lowest paid workers. Activists must build on this by recruiting and organising in the workplace.

Leeds schools to strike

Members of the NUT in Leeds have voted to take strike action in defence of jobs. 82% of members who voted, voted in favour.

Around 50 teachers and 60 support staff face the threat of compulsory redundancy. The other unions involved are also balloting for action and as soon as all the results are known a strike day will be fixed.

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