Unions battle for your vote

5th August 2005 at 01:00
As the NUT loses ground to nearest rival, the NASUWT, William Stewart looks at who's attracting new members and why

The National Union of Teachers has lost more ground to its nearest rival in the battle for new members, the latest official figures show.

Chris Keates, general secretary of Britain's second largest teaching union, the NASUWT, said she intended to overtake the NUT's membership when she took over at the helm last year. That goal seems now to be within her grasp.

Overall, her union is only 2,756 members behind the NUT's 330,709 according to statistics submitted to the Certification Office for Trade Unions and Employers' Associations for 2004.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the third largest union, also has reason to celebrate after finally turning round an alarming decline in its fee-paying membership.

NUT officials have raised eyebrows at the NASUWT's startling near-doubling in student, life and retired members, who do not pay full fees, from 53,440 in 2002 to 91,948 in 2004.

For fee-paying members, the most reliable measure of union strength, the NUT still remains 37,000 in front. But here the NASUWT is also making big inroads with a 12,519 or 5.6 per cent increase. That compares to 5,329 for the NUT which has seen its rate of increase fall from 6 per cent in 2002 to 3 per cent in 2003, the year it refused to sign the school workforce agreement, to 2 per cent in 2004.

Asked the secret of her union's success, Ms Keates said: "I think it is because we are keeping our very clear focus on putting the interests of our members first."

Dave Harvey, the NUT's recruitment committee chair, predicted that this year would be the NASUWT's high watermark because of the unpopularity of the new system for paying teachers for extra responsibilities it had signed up to. NUT membership had been rising sharply towards the end of last term as worries about possible pay cuts grew, he said. But Ms Keates said the NASUWT had seen no signs of a drop-off and was still putting on 1,000 members a month.

Overall numbers in the six England-based teaching unions rose to 940,358 by the end of 2004, the highest since the 1970s when the statistics were first released.

The ATL's overall total bucked the trend by falling to 195,511. But crucially it added an extra 3,552 fee-paying members, representing a 3 per cent rise. That compares with falls of 2.5 and 7.8 per cent in the previous years.

Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said: "We have become much clearer about the excellent services we have always offered our members and have embraced modern communications by allowing them to join online."

Her efforts have been rewarded with a salary of pound;93,052, easily the largest of the four classroom teacher union leaders.

David Hart, who retires as National Association of Head Teachers general secretary this month, was the highest salaried teachers' leader in 2004, for a third year running with pound;106,235.

But he has left his successor Mick Brookes with something to think about as the association's fee-paying members fell by 1,182 or 3.9 per cent. By contrast the Secondary Heads Association's fee-paying membership rose by 473, or 4.3 per cent.

The salary of John Dunford, the SHA general secretary, also received a considerable boost with a second inflation-busting rise of 6.9 per cent after his 8.2 per cent increase in 2003, taking him past both his NASUWT and NUT counterparts. Teachers received a 2.5 per cent rise.

NUT

General secretary Steve Sinnott

2004 salary and benefits pound;79,047*

plus pound;18,971 pension and pound;672 luncheon vouchers

2004 membership 330,709

(324,284 in 2003)

2004 fee-paying members

273,005

(267,671 in 2003)

NASUWT

General secretary Chris Keates

2004 salary and benefits

pound;86,004**

and pound;3,000 in benefits in kind. The union was unable to give figures

for pension contributions

2004 membership 327,953

(304,762 in 2003)

2004 fee-paying members 236,005

(223,486 in 2003)

ATL

General secretary Mary Bousted

2004 salary and benefits pound;93,052

plus pound;20,658 pension contributions

2004 membership

195,511

(201,845 in 2003)

2004 fee-paying members

122,813

(119,261 in 2003)

NAHT

General secretary david hart

2004 salary and benefits pound;106,235

plus pound;9,986 pension contributions, pound;7,191 car benefits and Pounds 2,124 medical insurance

2004 membership

40,524

(40,233 in 2003)

2004 fee-paying members

29,382

(30,564 in 2003)

SHA

General secretary john dunford

2004 salary and benefits pound;86,196

plus pound;11,636 pension contributions plus pound;1,650 car and pound;827 healthcare

2004 membership

11,557

(11,084 in 2003)

2004 fee-paying members 11,557 (11,084 in 2003)

PAT

General secretary jean gemmell

2004 salary and benefits pound;64,437

plus pound;6,645 pension contributions and pound;1,116 private medical cover

2004 membership

34,104 (34,578 in 2003)

2004 fee-paying members

34,104 (34,578 in 2003)

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