Teachers strikes threat increases

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The Independent Online

The threat of an all out teachers strike increased today as the second largest teachers' union decided to ballot its members on industrial action.

Leaders of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, are asking members to sanction a ballot on what they describe as "industrial action with a halo".

The debate, at the union's annual conference in Llandudno, comes a day after the largest teachers union, the National Union of Teachers voted for a ballot on strike action against the Government's pay reform proposals.

The NASUWT's industrial action, if approved, would start with a determined implementation of government guidance, which recommends that teachers should not waste their time with tasks like bulk photocopying, chasing absentee pupils, stocktaking and in putting pupil data.

The impact of this guidance has faded, the NASUWT leadership says, partly under pressure from heads and education authorities, partly through teachers' own misguided dedication.

That action, if approved, is likely during the summer term. But if it fails to reduce teachers' working hours to a reasonable level, from the average of up to 52 hours they were now estimated to work, the union's leadership would press for action to be stepped up.

The next stage, likely in the autumn, would be the declaration of a unilateral limit on the number of hours NASUWT members would work in any week.

It would aim to force the Government to rewrite the existing teachers' contract, which commits them to 1,256 hours of "directed" work a year - but adds that they must then work whatever extra hours are necessary to fulfil their duties.