In one of the highest turnouts in recent ballots, members of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) have voted overwhelmingly to strike over proposals to cut pensions.
The NAHT may now join fellow public sector workers and teaching union colleagues on the picket lines on November 30. It is the first time in the union’s 114-year history that its members have voted to strike.
More than 53.6 per cent per cent of the union’s membership took part in the ballot with a massive 75.8 per cent of them voting 'yes' – testimony to the intensity of feeling over an issue which many school leaders see primarily as a threat to staff recruitment and retention and ultimately, therefore, as a threat to educational standards for the nation’s children.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT: “In many ways this is an unhappy milestone. I have spoken at length to many school leaders and not one has been anything other than upset and sometimes downright angry that they have been forced into this situation as the only way to stand up for the profession and standards.
"We welcome the government's recent concessions as marking, finally, the start of genuine negotiations. It is sad that it has taken this long, but it is a start. We would like to avoid action if at all possible and will be negotiating intensely and in good faith in the run up to the 30th.
"Although the government has lessened some of the damage of its proposals there are still a number of significant obstacles. In particular, around half of the profession is unprotected by the '10 year' arrangements. We are in this for the whole profession, not just those close to retirement. We want to ensure that those with a full career ahead of them are treated fairly. At the moment, they are not. They face large cuts to their income in retirement, in return for working harder and longer.
"The government has tried to pit private against public sector in its rhetoric, risking a race to the bottom despite promises to the contrary and despite evidence that the pay of many leaders in the public sector (including pensions) is less than their skills could earn in the private sector.
“Teachers are already doing their bit to address the economic downturn by accepting a pay freeze and sharing the burdens of a strapped economy along with every other tax payer. The pay freeze is saving the government hundreds of millions. The proposed cuts are unfair, ill thought-through and purely being used to pay for the mistakes of the financial sector."
A full breakdown of the ballot result is available here.
Page Published: 09/11/2011