The Union's ongoing campaign to defend pay, pensions and working conditions continues this term with a further day of national strike action on Thursday 10th July. This is likely to be the biggest day of co-ordinated action in the public sector since November 2011. Our support staff colleagues in Unison, GMB and Unite have successfully balloted for strike action in opposition to their derisory pay award and have will join us on July 10th as the opening day of their action. More details will follow shortly, but below is the likely details of the strike rally. Together we will be much stronger and make an even bigger impact.
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NUT Supply Teachers Conference
A very successful supply teachers conference showed that less than 5% of supply teachers now say they mainly obtain work via LA-run pools. Over two thirds now mainly obtain work via agencies or agency-run LA pools and the remaining 25% obtain work directly from schools.
The number of agencies continues to grow, further fragmenting provision. Overall, it is estimated that there around 500 nationally. The biggest operators include Teaching Personnel, Randstad Education, Hays, Protocol and Capita. Contrast the massive salaries and bonuses paid to those running these outfits compared to the pay-rates going to agency staff!
These agencies can of course make an easy profit out of school budgets - typically £50 a day for placing a teacher in a school - because they don't have to pay the STPCD rates of pay that still apply to most permanent colleagues. Almost half of those surveyed reported a regular daily rate of just £100-125 and a further 16% report a regular rate below £100. The survey also suggests that supply rates are being driven downwards. That's a scandal that needs to be better publicised.
The NUT has launched a Charter for Supply Teachers setting out demands on LA pools, pay and pensions. The Charter also refers to the importance of workplace support for supply teachers. The most frequently cited problems relate to individual pupil information, teaching resources and planned work for students.
The Conference discussed plans to strengthen organisation to win gains for supply teacher members. One suggestion is to develop an NUT 'Kite Mark' for agencies, depending on the pay rates that they offer teachers. This could set down basic entitlements for negotiation with agencies and act as a basis for campaigning and pressurising agencies to improve salaries. The Kite Mark could also include other matters like pensions, CPD and DBS portability.
The big turnout at the Conference, and the anger and determination expressed from the supply teachers present, shows how the supply teacher network and campaigns must continue to build and strengthen. The National Union now has a responsibility to make sure we do everything we can to put these plans into practice.