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Left calls for strike ballot over pay

LEFT-WINGERS in the National Union of Teachers are calling for a ballot on strike action as they fight the Government's performance-related pay plans.

They are angry that their union has failed to campaign against the new salary structure.

Although the NUT is formally opposed to a "performance management" system with targets linked to pupil progress, general secretary Doug McAvoy has cautiously welcomed the plans.

Around 120 members met in London this week to launch School Teachers Opposed to Performance Pay.

But the union's leadership angrily defended its stance, saying the NUT remained opposed to performance-related pay. This week it lodged a pay claim of 10 per cent or pound;2,000 - whichever is greater - for all teachers. That mirrors the money the Government is offering teachers for crossing the threshold to its new higher pay scale. Mr McAvoy called for a pay rise "for the many, not the few".

The dispute over performance pay is set to dominate the forthcoming elections for senior union posts, including that for deputy general secretary. Kevin Courtney, pictured above right, a co-ordinator of STOPP, is to challenge the current deputy Steve Sinnott.

Mr Courtney said the leadership was out of touch with staff- rooms where teachers were angered and confused by the Government's plans. "These proposals are intended to hold down the general level of pay for teachers as a whole," he said.

"Our annual conference agreed to prepare material for parents and teachers and other unions and that we would ballot for a one-day strike. These steps are not being taken."

STOPP will organise ballots in schools for a one-day strike. These ballots have no legal status but are intended to show the groundswell of support for tougher action.

Mr Sinnott's campaign manager and national executive member Jerry Glazier said the union had continued to campaign against performance-related pay and the boycott of appraisal agreed at the conference remained in place.

The union could support the new appraisal system because it would help teachers' professional development. "But we won't have any notion of it being crudely linked to pay," Mr Glazier said.

The union's pay claim, submitted to the School Teachers' Review Body, would put the 80,000 teachers currently at top of their scale to almost pound;26,000. Good honours graduates would start at pound;17,500, bringing teaching into line with other graduate recruiters, the NUT says.

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