My union, the National Union of Teachers, has this weekend called for a 10% pay rise. Of course the union’s spokesman interviewed on the BBC yesterday had to admit immediately that there was no chance of such a demand being successful. If the idea is that by starting with an unrealistically high starting position we are likely to get an increase to offset the real-terms pay cut of recent years, then I think it is a badly misjudged strategy.
Unsurprisingly, the press backlash is already underway, with the Mirror proclaiming ‘Outrage as teachers union votes for huge pay increase’, and there’ll be plenty more where that came from.
The last time the union called a strike on pay (asking for a much lower increase, before the credit crunch hit), it divided members. We lost our school union representative as a result, and now are left without an in-school rep. I supported the strike, somewhat reluctantly, feeling that there are more pressing issues, such as the anti-Sats campaign, on which public sympathy might be gained. I feel that if you are in a union, then as the name suggests, it is vital that you support the collective decisions of that union, or leave.
I think the time is coming, after 18 years as an NUT member, when I may have to leave.