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Activists step up protest over pay

TEACHERS are being urged to boycott government plans for a results-linked pound;2,000 pay rise, as union left-wingers step up action against performance pay.

As The TES went to press, the executive of the National Union of Teachers was debating a possible one-day strike in what campaigners predicted would be a close vote.

However, Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, said teachers who apply to cross the threshold will get support and advice from the union.

Around 1,000 teachers turned out for a demonstration in London last weekend which ended in a packed rally addressed by Tony Benn MP, author Michael Rosen and comedian Jeremy Hardy. Some 2,000 have also signed a ballot against performance-related pay.

The rally was the biggest event staged so far by School Teachers Opposed to Performance Pay - the campaign organised by left-wing members of the NUT. It was attended by teachers from all four classroom unions, who says STOPP, have also supported much action in schools.

STOPP says the pound;2,000 on offer to teachers who meet tringent criteria - including an improvement in results comparable to the national average for children from a similar background - should be given to all teachers, with no strings attached.

Mr Benn, who received a standing ovation, said performance- related pay was arbitrary, divisive and unfair. Campaigners should take heart from Alun Michael's resignation as First Secretary in Wales, he said, and from the close mayoral contest in London - both of which showed that Tony Blair's government could be defeated.

NUT executive member Linda Taaffe urged teachers to boycott the plan. "David Blunkett will be collecting those statistics and using them to measure the success of this pay scheme," she said. "Go into your schools and encourage all the staff not to apply to go through the threshold."

She suggested teachers boycott covering for absent colleagues, and then follow it up with a one-day strike.

STOPP is planning a lobby of the Department for Education and Employment on March 1.

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