Former NUT general secretary Fred Jarvis urges teachers to consider alternatives to strikes

 

Hard left factions within the National Union of Teachers are carrying out a Militant Tendency-style operation to push the union into an escalation of strike action, its former general secretary Fred Jarvis said today.

Mr Jarvis, in a book published today, also urged the union to consider alternatives to strike action as the NUT squares up for a national one-day stoppage on 10 July in protest over the Government’s schools reforms,

Mr Jarvis is no stranger to organising industrial action himself - being in charge of the union during its long-running pay dispute in the 1980s. However, he argued that “times have changed and public attitudes can change, too” towards strike action.

He suggested that - instead of being docked pay for walking out - teachers should contribute money towards a fund aimed at campaigning through press advertising and the use of hoardings against Government policies.

Equally, he added, they should be “exploring all the ways in which social media can be used to influence public opinion”.

“I think that sort of approach would be preferable to having parents appearing on television condemning teachers for interrupting their children’s education and also, in many cases, causing them family difficulties and having to spend money on child care,” he said.

“There are sections of the public who are experiencing hardship and setbacks at least as serious as those being suffered by teachers and that also may have an effect on their willingness to support teachers on pay and pensions.”

Fred Jarvis thinks teachers should campaign rather than strike Fred Jarvis thinks teachers should campaign rather than strike (Photoshot)

Mr Jarvis was general secretary of the union in the 1970s and 80s and is now approaching 90, but still keeps a keen eye on union affairs. He said that the union’s annual conference “far more frequently than ever happened in my time, calls for strike action not only on pay and pensions but other issues as well”.

This month the union is striking over increases in pensions contributions and plans to increase performance-related pay in the profession and over their workload with the Government’s call for schools to open longer hours.

Mr Jarvis acknowledged that there has been a shift amongst the union’s membership to the left “or independence of any party” but not as far as “the ultra left which now enjoys a representation on the executive of the NUT which in no way reflects the views and political allegiance of the large majority of NUT members”.

A variety of ultra left wing groups such as the Socialist Worker Party, the Socialist Teachers’ Alliance and the Campaign for a Democratic and Fighting Union now seek to win the support of members at the conference, he said.

However, he added: “In the last two years another group has emerged which seeks to outflank the ultra left by being even further left. It’s called LANAC (Local Associations National Action Campaign) and by inviting NUT local associations to join has all the hallmarks of what Militant Tendency tried to do within the Labour party.” It has recently gained three more seats on the union’s executive.

Mr Jarvis said that the “very low level of participation by members in elections for the union’s officers suggests either a degree of indifference or inactivity on the part of a very large section of the membership which is not good for the health of the organisation”. 

Only 10.2 per cent of the electorate turned out for the union’s officers and 19 of the 41 places on the executive ended with a candidate being elected unopposed.

Christine Blower, current general secretary of the NUT, argued its “Stand Up for Education” campaign was doing precisely what Mr Jarvis advocated. “NUT members have lobbied Parliament, written to MPs and set up Saturday stalls across the country engaging with parents and the general public. Our Twitter presence is the envy of many,” she said.

“Fred Jarvis was no stranger to strike action in his day. The NUT is now taking action to defend education and the profession from the seriously undermining attacks from Government. Strike action is a last resort for teachers and we deeply regret the disruption it causes parents and pupils.”

On its official website, LANAC said of Mr Jarvis: “For people like Fred the left can never just stand for election, they are always ‘plotting to take over the union’."

Mr Jarvis reserved his harshest words for Education Secretary Michael Gove.

He described him as “the most irresponsible, gaff-prone, U-turning and the most ideological” of all Education Secretaries.

“Regrettably, he is also the most dangerous, given the follies he has inflicted on our education system,” he added.

Y"ou Never Know Your Luck - Reflections of a cockney campaigner for education" is available online at amazon.co.uk and published by Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd, price £12

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Guru Careers: Product Training Specialist / Software Trainer

£25 - 32,500K (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Produ...

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence