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GTC braced for fight over fees

Unions say pound;25 subscription is too high. Sarah Cassidy reports.

The General Teaching Council faces a showdown with unions after one advised members not to pay the pound;25 subscription fee, and a second said teachers should withhold payments until the fee is reduced.

The council is planning to have the money compulsorily deducted from the wages of staff who refuse to pay.

While the National Union of Teachers has threatened legal action to stop the money being deducted, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers hopes the GTC will agree to cut the fee to around pound;10.

Last month the 64-member council voted to fund its activities by taking a pound;25 subscription from teachers in maintained schools this October, rising to pound;27.50 next year.

If staff refuse to pay, the council proposes that local authorities should, as an "ultimate action", deduct the money from their pay packets. But the NUT argues that teachers shuld be free to decide for themselves whether or not to pay the pound;25 fee and accuses the GTC of demanding money to fund an "extravagant agenda".

NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy said the fee was a crude tax on teachers.

NASUWT general secretary Nigel de Gruchy said: "I am advising our members to pay no money now. We believe that the GTC has unlawfully extended its remit and that is why they are attempting to charge teachers pound;25. If they stuck to their true remit then it would only cost teachers around pound;10."

The union's paper, Career Teacher, poses the question "What does the GTC do for me?" and answers "Not a lot!".

Teachers will be able to claim tax relief on the GTC fee reducing the cost to pound;19.50. It must be paid by all registered teachers, including full-time, part-time and supply teachers. They will be expected to pay by October 1.

The NUT's annual subscription is pound;105, the NASUWT's is pound;98.

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