Thursday, 11 July 2013

Executive Meeting: July

The national executive met at Hamilton House on July 11th.

The meeting confirmed its re-nomination of Christine Blower and Dave Harvey to serve as the Union's nominee on the TUC General Council.

General Secretary Christine Blower reported on the Strike Action in the North West on 27th July. This was solidly supported by NUT and NASUWT members.  On the day, there were 4 major rallies, and widespread solidarity action in the form of photocalls, stickers and posters, and letters and messages from NUT members elsewhere in the country.  The coverage from the mass media had been poor: some people almost considered that the BBC may have been "steered" away from covering this ! Fortunately NUT members and activists generated a Twitter storm raising awareness of our campaign.

The People's Assembly Against Austerity took place in London since we last met: 4,000 people signed up to this, and since then there has been a flood of new Assembly meetings proposed, including in Sheffield and Lambeth.  The NUT was quite right to sign up to this initiative alongside many other unions and other partners.  Christine was pleased to take part, and welcome Tony Benn's participation. Tony Benn speaks about the history of "The World and Britain" and Christine was able to comment that maybe he should have written the Government's notorious History curriculum !Frances O'Grady attended as new TUC General Secretary, and committed the TUC to supporting and co-ordinating when affiliates are in dispute.  Members are encouraged to support future events from the People's Assembly.

Christine also reported on the activities from the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) think tank, supported by Unite and us, amongst others. They are holding their first national conference in September, and members are encouraged to visit their website.  We are a financial supporter, and Christine is a member of the Management Committee, so the NUT is in a position to make suggestions about the development of this organisation.

Young Teachers Conference was a great success, as was the Supply Teacher Conference the following weekend. Many delegates to that are going back to associations and divisions to develop and expand Supply Members organisation within the Union. There is clearly the will for this to become an annual event. (I was unable to attend the Supply Conference due to ill health, but Dominic Byrne of Barking and Dagenham took my place- apparently drawing laughter for pointing out he was doing my "supply". There is a report from Martin Powell-Davies on the East Sussex Supply Lines Blog)

Tomorrow is Malala Day celebrating the 16th birthday of Malala Yousafzai.   She will be addressing the UN, and continues to highlight the scandal of millions of children, especially girls not being able to access education.  There had been a drop-off of girls attending education in Pakistan: this has now been reversed, and many girls are returning to school.  320,000 have already signed Malala's petition calling on the UN to organise to get every boy and girl into school by the end of 2015. You can sign it here.

Christine has met with the representatives from the General Union of Palestinian Teachers, and the situation for them remains dire. She feels that every member would be appalled by the impact of the separation wall, and the condition in which Palestinian people are living.

Christine reported on the TUC General Council.  She drew attention to the 65th Anniversary of the birth of the NHS.  There is also an absolute intention to have a huge demonstration and lobby of the Tory Party conference against the cuts- and it is important that there is a significant NUT presence there.  Both we and the NASUWT raised the importance of the joint action and the on-going campaign.

Fred Jarvis, former NUT General Secretary- still an active and still a dogged campaigner well into his eighties-  was presented with an honour at the TES Education Awards- Gerard Kenny presented this for Fred's long and tireless service to education.

Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary,  updated the Executive on the current and next steps in the Pay, Pensions and Workload Dispute and our action.   The school closure figures showed a huge impact from the North West strike, and the demonstrations and rallies were very well attended. We need to continue to build and involve our activists, and mobilise as many members, not just to take the strike action, but to get actively involved in the campaigning.   It was notable that the BBC coverage (sparse as it was) did not have the usual "this many schools are open" statements from the DfE or Gove: because there were so few !

There was a full discussion about the next action, and how the Union can support members and Division Secretaries in building for this and getting our message across.

There will be a full update on the situation published tomorrow- and will be shared on this site. There will also be direct e-mails to all members, and circulars to Division Secretaries.

Kevin reminded us that the Pay Policy campaigning continues in earnest; a number of areas have now secured compliant policies at Local Authority level: in other areas there are significant issues, and there will need to be action on a school-by-school basis.

Kevin and Christine have met with the chief inspector of schools, Michael Wilshaw: and confirmed that Ofsted will not criticise schools for choosing to adopt the NUT/NASUWT model policy. Christine added that it is important to monitor if there are any issues on this with individual inspection teams.

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