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EDITIONS
Friday, 29 March, 2002, 11:49 GMT
Teachers' warning over their workload
Teacher leafing through paperwork
Teachers' unions are united over workload
Members of the biggest union representing teachers in England and Wales are in militant mood as they gather for their annual conference.

The political scene for the National Union of Teachers assembly in Bournemouth was set by a strike involving thousands of the union's members in greater London - the first for decades.

The specific issue was the London area cost-of-living allowance, which is going up 3.5% next month in line with the general pay rise.

But there is also discontent over the new, performance-related pay scale and over workload.

Joint demand

A review of workload has found that many teachers work more than 50 hours a week in term time, with some exceeding 60.

NUT leader Doug McAvoy
Doug McAvoy: Wants Gordon Brown to deliver
In a united show of strength the conference will be voting on a workload resolution being considered by all three biggest unions at their Easter conferences.

It was passed this week by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and will be considered next week by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

The resolution calls for the Treasury "to release the funding necessary to implement the outcomes of the Teacher Workload Review and to resolve the excessive workload burdens of teachers".

And unless that is achieved the motion authorises the unions "to ballot members to implement joint objectives on removing the excessive workload" - in other words, to ballot for industrial action.

'Reminder'

The workload review - being carried out with representatives of other unions and with the Department for Education - was set up last year.

The general secretary of the NUT, Doug McAvoy, said the resolution was a reminder to the government of a commitment it had given to address teachers' "excessive workload".

"In order to address that effectively we need to have an improved contract which is more supportive of teaching," Mr McAvoy told BBC News.

"That requires more investment and we're waiting anxiously to see what comes out of the government's comprehensive spending review."

Exams

He said there was too much bureaucracy still, there needed to be more classroom assistants, and there was a crisis in recruiting and keeping teachers.

If action were taken he thought it would most probably be in the autumn term - but in any case exam students would be protected.

The Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, is due to address the conference on Saturday.

She has made it known that she is not prepared to continue accepting invitations to union conferences if delegates intend to heckle her rather than listening to what she has to say.

Two years ago NUT delegates shouted at and walked out on Ms Morris - who was then the school standards minister - and last year her predecessor, David Blunkett, was heckled at the NUT conference.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Westhead
"They are threatening industrial action"
See also:

26 Mar 02 | UK Education
26 Mar 02 | UK Education
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14 Mar 02 | UK Education
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