Pay and conditions national frameworks at risk
England and Wales
The national framework of pay and conditions for teachers and headteachers is under serious threat following the abolition of the School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB).
The SSSNB was established by the last Government to negotiate nationally the pay and working conditions of support staff in schools.
Explaining the reason for its decision, the Department for Education (DfE) stated that the SSSNB ‘does not fit well with the Government’s priorities for greater deregulation of the pay and conditions arrangements for the school workforce’.
The NASUWT believes this worrying statement indicates that the Government is planning to undermine the national framework for teachers and headteachers to allow employers to set their own pay and conditions.
The drive towards deregulation is evidenced by the Coalition’s championing of free schools and academies, both of which are free to set their own salaries and terms of employment.
The NASUWT is clear that such a move would not, as ministers claim, raise the standard of teaching and learning, but instead expose teachers and school leaders to exploitation, inequality and discrimination.
Further signs that the Government aims to remove the national framework are in evidence in the Schools White Paper, published last month, which proposes introducing greater flexibility on teachers’ pay and removing the distinction between performance management and capability.
This lays the groundwork for the introduction of performancerelated pay and would effectively mean that teachers were always on a capability procedure, thus facilitating the Coalition Government’s apparent intention of giving headteachers more power to vary teachers’ pay and conditions, increase monitoring of their performance and to fast-track the sack for those deemed to be underperforming.
The Coalition Government’s refusal to agree some of the revisions to the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD), introduced on 1 September 2010, with trade unions further demonstrates its determination to press ahead with its deregulation agenda. The NASUWT, with the TUC, is pressing the Secretary of State to consider the serious ramifications of the decision to abolish the SSSNB for schools and on the quality of pupil learning. The Union will also be continuing its campaign to retain the national framework of pay and conditions. No changes to legislation have yet been made, so no changes to pay and conditions should be taking place at school level.
Threats are emerging to teachers’ pay and conditions in Northern Ireland, with indications of pressure on salaries.
Worrying signs are emerging that ministers in Northern Ireland are discussing measures to reduce the number of teachers reaching the higher end of the main pay scale and progressing through the threshold. Scrutiny is also focusing on starting salaries and the costs of maintaining ‘retired teachers’, which the Government classes as those aged over 50.
These developments come despite the fact that teachers and principals in Northern Ireland continue to be denied parity of pay and conditions with colleagues in England, Wales and Scotland.
As a result of this discrepancy, the NASUWT is engaged in a campaign of industrial action calling for parity.
As a result of the NASUWT’s campaign, progress has been made with the establishment of a strategic forum to enable NASUWT and other education unions to enter into detailed discussions on pay and conditions issues with employers.
Additionally, a workforce directorate has also been created as a result of pressure from the NASUWT to provide extra resources to support the work needed to improve pay and conditions. However, despite these developments, it remains the case that teachers in Northern Ireland continue to be:
denied comparable terms and conditions of employment;
paid at an inferior rate for doing the same job;
subject to burdensome and bureaucratic requirements, including unproductive paperwork, covering for absent colleagues and a host of other tasks that do not require a teacher’s professional knowledge or skills;
refused access to proven and effective strategies that would significantly reduce workload and assure their work/life balance.
The cuts are likely to exacerbate the disparity between the rights afforded to teachers in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Ministers are not due to announce Northern Ireland’s budget for 2011/12 until February 2011 and the scale of cuts and associated threats to teachers’ pay and conditions will then be even more evident.
It is critical that members in Northern Ireland continue to support the Union’s escalated programme of industrial action to secure parity.
Further details are available at www.nasuwt.org.uk/PayParityNorthernIreland