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Monday, 5 April, 1999, 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK
Teachers reject 1bn pay package
she shewring
Sue Shewring: "Changes not negotiable"
By Sean Coughlan in Brighton

Teachers have voted unanimously to reject the government's 1bn package of pay reforms, as union members once again step up pressure on the education secretary.

The National Union of Teachers, meeting in Brighton for its annual conference, has attacked the government's Green Paper on teachers' pay and conditions in England as "ill-conceived, misguided, divisive and bureaucratic".

doug mcavoy
Doug McAvoy: "We won't budge"
After the vote, the union's General Secretary, Doug McAvoy, sent an emphatic message to the Education Secretary, David Blunkett.

"One of us is going to have to change our minds," he said, "and it isn't going to be the National Union of Teachers."

A day after the conference agreed to ballot for strike action next term against the introduction of performance-related pay, union delegates once again attacked the government over its proposals for changing the pay structure.

This was a "vicious assault on teachers' pay and conditions" which treated them like "robots and not human beings", union delegates were warned by a series of speakers angered by the government's bid to overhaul teachers' pay structure.

Disaffection

The Green Paper includes the controversial plan to introduce new appraisals which would affect whether teachers would qualify for annual pay increments. It was condemned by delegate Liam Conway as the "biggest attack on teachers this century".

Unions 99
Expressing the disaffection felt by teachers about the plans for performance pay, Mr Conway said the Green Paper was the work of an "unfriendly, hostile government" which wanted to "destroy the effectiveness" of teachers' unions.

Sue Shewring, a delegate from Lancaster and Morecambe, told the conference that the union "had to make it clear to Mr Blunkett that opposition to the Green Paper is non-negotiable".

john yandell
John Yandell: "We're being made scapegoats"
Other speakers emphasised what they claimed as the practical difficulties of introducing an appraisal system. Ken Pearson from Burnley said that "a whole teacher for a whole year" would be required to handle appraisals in some schools.

Instead of putting 1bn into the proposed pay structure, delegates called for the money to be put into pay rises that would benefit all teachers and not only those judged to be qualified for performance pay.

Teachers were being "scapegoated for the shortcomings of the education system", said John Yandell - when the problem lay in a lack of resources and inadequate pay.

Speaking after the vote against the Green Paper, Doug McAvoy, said that there could be no doubting teachers' commitment to opposing any linking between appraisals and pay.

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