Teaching union says no to strike ... but NUT backs walkout

NASUWT representative John Girdley (second from right) (((HEADSHOT)))
NASUWT representative John Girdley (second from right) (((HEADSHOT)))
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A band of Fylde coast teachers represented the area’s schools at a conference which saw the education professionals agree not to take strike action.

Members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), the country’s largest teaching union, gathered in Birmingham over the weekend for the union’s annual conference.

On the agenda was the union’s stance on industrial action, with members voting to maintain current sanctions of teachers working only the hours they are paid, rather than the 60 many say they are forced to do, and for union bosses to keep up negotiations with the Government over pay and working conditions.

John Girdley, NASUWT representative on the Fylde coast, said no strike action was planned for the near future.

Fifty per cent of the area’s teachers are members of the union.

Instead teachers are being encouraged to ‘work to rule’, to minimise the high levels of hours being put in by too many, the union said.

Mr Girdley added: “We remain in a state of industrial action with this Government.

“The vast majority of our focus will be to try to get schools to continue that they will ‘work to rule’, to try to resist the huge workload most teachers seem to be facing.

“Having to work 60 hours a week is destroying people.”

The union said it is keen to continue its talk with the Government over teachers’ pay, pensions, working conditions, excessive workload and job losses.

And while they cannot rule out future strike action altogether, bosses have said it is not on the agenda for the near future.

Mr Girdley added: “We will not be calling on people to strike because we are having talks with the Government and we are getting concessions.

“Our focus is on ongoing discussions. We firmly believe ‘work to rule’ and talking is in the interests of our members.

“We’re not precluding that we may go on strike in the future but we’re engaging in constructive negotiations now.

“It all comes down to the Government’s changes putting undue pressure on schools, through the likes of Ofsted and academy conversions.”

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) yesterday voted in favour of strike action which threatens to cause disruption at the end of the summer exams season.

The NUT, which has members from schools across the Fylde, confirmed at its annual conference in Brighton that a walk out would be staged in late June unless “significant progress” is made in talks with the Government over pay, pensions and workload.

It follows a series of powerful attacks on Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and the Coalition’s reform programme.

At the conference, activists chanted “Gove must go” as they overwhelmingly backed plans to escalate their campaign of industrial action.

Members will walk out at some point in the week beginning June 23 – when GCSE and A-Level exams are scheduled to take place.

Avis Gilmore, North West regional secretary for the NUT, said: “We have had a great response from our members across the Fylde coast for the last two days of strike action and the feeling is that they want to continue with this campaign.

“We have been meeting with parents, for example by holding stalls and handing out leaflets in town centres, and they also believe we are doing the right thing.

“We don’t like taking strike action, it’s a last resort, but we are facing a situation where Education Secretary Michael Gove has not appeared at any of the talks.

“I know particularly members in Blackpool are having issues with schools converting to academy status which they are not happy about.”