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Gove Considering Anti Strike Laws

 

Michael Gove is considering new anti-strike laws as he moves onto a ‘war footing’ with teaching unions who are expected to launch industrial action over the end of national pay deals.

Under the reforms announced last week, teachers’ annual rises of around £2,000 will be scrapped and head teachers given almost complete freedom to dictate salary increases based on performance in the classroom.

The Education Secretary believes the reform, allowing heads to reward the best teachers and freeze the pay of the least effective, would improve state education and make teaching a more attractive career choice for high-fliers.

But union barons have raised the prospect of industrial action, swiftly condemning the move as ‘disastrous’ and ‘unfair’ to long-serving staff.

A senior source at the Department for Education said the measures under consideration include legislation to make it more difficult to call strikes, challenging strikes in the courts possibly including the European Court of Human Rights, and making it easier for academies to sack sub-standard staff

The source told The Sunday Times: ‘Gove’s team and officials have been working on this for 18 months. He regards giving heads the power to pay good teachers more as one of the fundamental pillars of the new system’.

Mr Gove’s department is said to be moving onto a ‘war footing’ as the minister made it clear internally that ‘he is prepared for the unions to have an all-out strike and that there will be no back-tracking'.

Currently teachers start on a salary of £21,588 and receive a virtually-guaranteed eight per cent pay rise annually in their early years.

The figures are set by national pay bargaining and teachers move up the main pay scale according to length of service in the classroom.

The system has meant that long-serving but under-performing teachers are paid the same as more capable colleagues.

Under proposed reforms, announced by Chancellor George Osborne in last week’s Autumn Statement, head teachers would in theory be able to promote a teacher from a starting salary to the maximum £51,000 in just six months.

The move - which will be put out to consultation - strikes at the heart of national pay bargaining and severely weakens the power of teaching unions.

Detailed national pay scales for teachers will be ripped up and replaced with three broad pay bands - starting at £21,804, £34,523 and £37,836 for teachers outside London.

It follows a report from the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) which recommended more freedom for schools to set pay. National pay arrangements for civil servants, prison officers and NHS staff will continue.

Heads will also be able to withhold the one per cent pay rise due for all public sector workers in 2013/14 and 2014/15. Only those on the lowest salaries will be guaranteed the increase.

'Gove’s team and officials have been working on this for 18 months. He regards giving heads the power to pay good teachers more as one of the fundamental pillars of the new system'

The National Union of Teachers claim that the proposals ‘shake our pay arrangements to their foundations’ and will ‘lead to unnecessary conflict between heads and teachers.’

Its leader Christine Blower and Chris Keates of the NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) are meeting this week to discuss their response to the pay overhaul.

They have mandates for full strikes following ballots of their 430,000 members in England. Miss Blower said strike action ‘remains an option but it will be a last resort.’

The Department for Education source added: ‘A full national strike is regarded as a price worth paying to change the culture and break the destructive power of Keates and Blower. Resources are being moved internally to prepare for strikes. Lawyers are being discreetly spoken to.'

Daily Mail, 09.12.12

 

 

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