Teachers to vote on work-to-rule over red tape

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The Independent Online

Teachers threatened to impose a national work-to-rule from September as the battle over classroom red tape wasextended yesterday.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), said industrial action was necessary to stop teachers' hours running above limits in the European working-time directive. He said ballot papers would be sent out to his union's 180,000 members next month and warned that a work-to-rule could develop in the autumn to involve a national cap on teachers' weekly hours.

The issue will be among those dominating the union conferences at Easter. Members of the NASUWT will debate the call for industrial action at their annual conference later this month.

Mr de Gruchy said his members were "clamouring for action". Teachers worked anaverage 51-hour week, he said, a figure that had risen despite a government drive to cut paperwork in schools after unions last took action on the issue two years ago. He said they could boycott out-of-school meetings, as well as other administrative work such as photocopying, collating reports, analysing attendance, collecting money and chasing up pupils who did not arrive at school.

The union's call follows complaints from headteachers last week that they faced a "snowstorm" of paperwork caused by government initiatives and documents from local authorities and national quangos. The Government's better-regulation task force also voiced concern at red tape in schools, arguing that it did nothing to assist the drive to raise standards.