Teachers called yesterday for a campaign of “mass resistance” against Government plans to introduce regional pay rates, warning that national strikes could be needed to defeat the proposals.
Delegates at the National Union of Teachers’ (NUT) annual conference in Torquay said a move towards localised pay is an attack on teachers and part of a Government strategy to drive down pay and conditions and break up the school system.
The union passed a resolution declaring its “complete opposition to the Government’s intention to attack the national pay and conditions arrangements for school teachers”.
It also opened the door to widespread industrial action over academies, passing a separate motion to establish a national campaign of local, regional and national action against further academy conversions.
The conference heard a call for national strikes by trade unions to push back regional pay proposals.
Tony Dowling, an NUT member from Gateshead, said: “This is not just an attack on pay. And it is not just an attack on teachers. It is about the fragmentation and privatisation of education.”
A walkout by trade unions last November, and again by NUT London members last month, against changes to public sector pensions, were a show of force, he suggested.
“When we took to the streets on March 28, we demonstrated that we could bring out a mass resistance to this Government.”
The priority motion instructed the union’s executive to take “all appropriate action”, including being prepared to ballot for national strikes, if Education Secretary Michael Gove puts forward specific proposals attacking teachers’ national pay and conditions.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “We’re approaching this in an open-minded way and are well off putting forward any concrete proposals. It’s a bit overblown to threaten ‘mass resistance’ when no union knows what it is actually resisting.”