NASUWT instructed its members to take action short of strike action, began on 1 December 2011. It is apparent that, in some areas, this action is continuing.
While the union’s trade dispute is with Michael Gove over workload, pensions, pay, including pay progression, conditions of service and job loss, a stated aim of the first phase of their action is to ensure “that teachers are receiving their contractual rights and entitlements……..”
The instructions and associated initial guidance may be accessed via the NASUWT website (www.nasuwt.org.uk) or the following links:
It is anticipated that NASUWT will issue additional instructions in due course.
The NAHT Position
NAHT endorses the right of any teacher, including school leaders, to receive in full their contractual and statutory rights and benefits in relation to their employment.
The association is not aware of any body of evidence which might support the assertion that teachers, nationally are being denied such entitlement.
If specific local issues exist, these should be addressed in the relevant establishment, through the use of the locally agreed dispute resolution procedures, to which NASUWT will be a party.
NAHT has significant concerns about the NASUWT action short of strike action, as those who will be most affected (school leaders and governing bodies) are not in a position to resolve the dispute as it is with the Secretary of State.
Responding to the NASUWT Action
NASUWT members who respond to the call to action are likely to be in breach of their contracts. A “work to rule” is not a “work to contract”. NASUWT must have recognised this fact, which will be why they have sought the limited protection offered by an official ballot.
The nature of any response to the action is a matter for individual employers, so head teachers are advised to seek clear guidance from the relevant employer about the nature and extent of any sanctions they should apply.
Employers are likely to require head teachers to report the facts and circumstances of any possible contractual breach. While not wishing to entrench attitudes, head teachers may need to issue an individual teacher with an instruction to carry out a particular duty and to seek confirmation that the teacher is refusing to comply. This will be particularly important where the words of an apparent refusal are ambiguous (e.g. “My union has instructed me to….” Or “I am unable to ….” )
It will then be for the employer to determine whether or not a breach of contract has occurred and the appropriate remedy.
NAHT Advice in relation to NASUWT “Work to Rule”: Supplementary Notes
The NASUWT “work to rule” is not a “work to contract”, so members following the NASUWT instructions may find themselves to be acting in breach of their contracts of employment. Their contracts require them to work to “rules” set by their employer NOT by NASUWT.
Classroom and other observations (in addition to those for PM) are permitted (see NAHT Guidance: Classroom observation and other monitoring: the statutory position).
Thus the head teacher may wish to point out to NASUWT members that co-operating/engaging with all classroom observation and other monitoring is a contractual duty, so a refusal may be deemed to be a breach of contract and could result in the application of a sanction. The head teacher may wish to emphasise that the employer sets the rules to which the teacher is required to work, not the NASUWT.
If possible the teacher may be given some time to reflect (or to take advice) but should be asked to state explicitly whether or not they are refusing to co-operate. If the teacher does refuse, the employer should be informed of the facts, to enable a decision to be taken about possible punitive action.
Follow the link below for NAHT's full advice regarding the action.