Exclusive: New call for big two teacher unions to merge

There should be 'a single union' and 'door may open' to collaboration between NEU and NASUWT, says senior NEU figure

Union call: A senior NEU figure has suggested that his union and the NASUWT should work more closely together

Renewed calls have been made for the nation’s two largest teaching unions to join forces to represent the plight of teachers facing “crippling workload and punitive policies on pay and sickness". 

Tes has learned that there are hopes for discussions over joint-working between the leaderships of the NEU and NASUWT, which have a combined total of 700,000 paying members.

NEU national executive member Alex Kenny said the forthcoming appointment of the new general secretary of the NASUWT, Patrick Roach, “may open the door to greater collaboration“ and added that he hopes it would lead to a “change in attitudes in unions working together”.

He told Tes: “In the first instance, it would mean working together on campaigns at school level, but also at national level on funding and workload. 

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“My view and the view of a lot of people in the NEU is that we should have a single union, but we know this isn’t going happen overnight.”

Will NEU and NASUWT unions join forces?

In a document circulated to activists, Mr Kenny has highlighted teachers' "crippling workload" and said the large Conservative majority in the general election had “serious implications for the NEU,” which he said was at risk  of “withering on the vine” if it did not make changes.

He highlighted to Tes the NEU's five challenges that the new government must address: funding, child poverty, replacing Ofsted, ending high-stakes primary testing and addressing the teacher retention and recruitment crisis.

He said: “Even if the NASUWT joined us on one or two of those then we would have a scaling up of responses. If people could see the NEU and NASUWT responding jointly that would go down very well."

He said he hoped discussions would be taking place between the leadership of both unions next year, but that Mr Roach "would need time to settle in”.

A spokesperson for the NEU said: “The National Education Union is always keen to work closely with other education unions as demonstrated by the  joint campaigns we have run  around pay, pensions and school funding."

The NASUWT has been contacted for comment.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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