Local View: Teachers Unions – ‘Must try harder’.

Birmingham is currently hosting the teachers union (NASUWT) annual conference in the city’s ICC and the Red Banner is flying high. Not content with deriding the Army (more on that below) the teachers union have now turned on school Academies.

The quasi-private status of these state schools doesn’t fit the socialist mafia’s agenda and they want the government to step in and sting the philanthropists paying for these schools with more bureaucratic legislation. General Secretary of their Politburo, Chris Keats, said “Teachers in academy schools are entitled to the same protection and benefits as teachers in other state schools”.

I agree, but this will be achieved, not through old fashioned Union bullying tactics, but via the very ethos behind Academies- free market forces. Why would any teacher work in a school that didn’t pay them the standard wage? They wouldn’t. The Academy couldn’t function unless it did. We have the rule of law to protect against unjust employers and unfair dismissal – we don’t need a press gang to bully everyone as well.

What the unions really don’t like is the whiff of privatisation. The six Academies across Birmingham will be partly funded by regional philanthropists – a benevolent gift to help the education of some of the poorest in this city. Reality has never stopped a Union rant and it was predictable that NASUWT, the largest of the teachers union, attacked Academies as they, in their words, ‘put public assets into private ownership’. Public ownership has however, seen this country slip further down the European league table for educational standards. Private ownership would never stand for the £1 billion waste of money that was the ‘Sure Start’ programme. These Academies are saving the taxpayer as well as helping pupils.

The financial backers of these Academies are men and women who have made copious amounts of money from sound investments over their lifetime. Why would they back a project that didn’t function properly? The function of a school being a good solid education. Pupils should never be treated like a commodity but remember that the people investing in Academies across this region are doing so to put money back in to the community, their motive is a return to the highest standard of education possible. This fat bloated nanny state simply won’t be able to compete no matter how much the Unionists romanticise public ownership.

This came only a day after a teachers union decided to deride the Army for trying to recruit in schools. Something that is factually wrong but this, as said above, never stopped a union rant.

Paul McGarr, a teacher from East London, gave speech laden with laughably sweet socialist rhetoric (the word ‘imperialist’ was even rolled out!). The irony that in his call for the Army to be balanced, impartial and honest in its recruitment drives he neglected the sentiments himself.
He didn’t elaborate on Saddam’s regime of torture, mass executions, arbitrary arrest and systematic rape. He didn’t speak of the nation building that will, one day, give Iraqi’s the same freedoms that we enjoy. This doesn’t fit his agenda though. When the current members of our armed forces say in their twilight years that they helped build a peaceful democratic Iraq Mr McGarr can tell people that he moaned a bit. This teachers union seem to forget that freedom is rarely free. Thank god we had a decent recruitment drive in 1939 eh…

Like the very notion of unions his message was wholly patronising. It assumed that the people at the top in the Army are liars and those at the bottom are mugs. It assumed that the people joining up are too thick to realise that, in their words, ‘war could be dangerous and that there were humanitarian casualties’. If a young person doesn’t know this then I blame his history teacher and know one else.

What organisation tells the whole truth when seeking to recruit anyway? Large city banks don’t advertise the fact that you may be working 18 hours a day. How many people have applied for a job on the strength of an ‘opportunities for travel’ boost only to find the truth to be every other Wednesday is spent in Nuneaton?

But these two examples represent the inherent interests of Unions. Their purpose is to promote paternalism, their paternalism, at the cost of responsibility. The noble but flawed notion of ‘solidarity’ is undermined because the union leaders have no interest in your position. Your membership is conditional to you swallowing the whole ideology of socialism no matter what the cost to reality.

So why not instead of grandstanding the teachers union help their members to address the problem that 40% of children leave primary school having failed to achieve the minimum standard in reading, writing and mathematics. Or what about the fact that less than half of our16 year olds manage to achieve 5 good GCSE passes, thus further entrenching social stagnation. It’ll be a better legacy than a standing ovation at a conference.

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2 thoughts on “Local View: Teachers Unions – ‘Must try harder’.

  1. Oddly, I disagree with this article. I think that it is overwhelmingly based on a very Thatcherite concept of what unionism is and what a union is for.

    I notice that Tories have very little problem with unions when considering organisations like the CBI or the BMA or the BDA or the Law Society. As long as their is a vaguely professional aspect to a representative body, they are fine, upstanding bodies which stand up to the pesky government who try to (shock and horror) hold them to some form of account for their huge pay and resposibilities to others. The wrath of Tories, I note, is reserved for the NUT, RNC, Unison or the RMT. I wonder why this is.

    The truth is that unions exist to represent workers in areas such as standards for members, pay, health and safety, terms and conditions, holiday, employment security and training and development. Employers are there to ensure an effective delivery of service by managing their staff well. I’d like to thoroughly rebut the argument that the NASUWT should have been spending time doing the job of education managers. I know that this is a small part of your post but its an important one to draw out.

    The major argument, I believe, is about whether a union has any right to comment on issues wider to their direct contractual employment. So, wider than the core issues I’ve outlined above, whether a union has a right to take a view on issues like who pays their wages rather than how and why and what they’re paid – private versus public ownership – or the public context in which they operate – the criticism and avoidance of a positiive view of war.

    I’d say that this is an absolutely core right of being an organised collective of members. For a start, unions are ‘private’ membership organisations and they, democratically, have the right to adopt whatever view they like on whatever they like.

    Secondly, it rebut to Daniel, although its easy to see bread and butter issues from the outside, from the inside, the nuance is valuable. Apprentices between 16 and 18, for example, like my brother aren’t covered by National Minimum Wage legislation and therefore Adam earns £2.05 an hour! His life doesn’t cost any less to run but he earns a third of what his colleagues are. The NUT adopting a view on the NMW and youth discrimination would probably be scorned as a ‘non-educational issue’ but I am firmly convinced that it is.

    And finally, we have to remember that teachers are educators and there is a legitimate argument of academic freedom to be explored. If teachers want to insist that the Armed Services don’t only show us the smiling Iraqi Prime Minister but also want to show us the dead Iraqi children there might well be a meritorious argument to be made.

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