We must strike for our rights

29th March 2013 at 00:00

I agree with Gerard Kelly ("Unions, stop living up to your enemies' spin", Editorial, 22 March). Comments about the speed of response of the NUT and NASUWT teaching unions are valid, and the "action short of strike action" has been a damp squib. The rest of his argument, however, I cannot support.

The NUT's response has been far too timid. This has encouraged Michael Gove and the government to be more aggressive. There are few in the profession who feel that the pensions deal was "the best possible". Those who signed up to it have belatedly realised that they have been swindled. The government must have known what was coming next - the new School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document that will have a depressing effect on the average pay upon which future pensions are based. Performance-related pay is not the fluffy, inoffensive, friendly creature that you believe it to be. TES recently reported on what has happened in the US, with tragic consequences springing from individual teachers being ranked in some areas ("Named, ranked and blamed", Cover story, 8 March).

Should the unions follow the path advised, which is to go along with every idea Mr Gove has, they will be complicit in their own extinction. The only way to get anywhere with this government is to take national strike action now, have a clear timetable of escalation, and not run scared of the right-wing press by carefully avoiding the exam period. Our leaders need to galvanise the membership, not fret about what might go wrong.

Nigel May, NUT member and school representative.

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