Teaching unions NUT and NASUWT complain that “rather than sitting down and engaging frankly” with them, Michael Gove prefers to use megaphone diplomacy.
So what is the Education Secretary’s response? Well, unsurprisingly, it’s to engage in a sustained bout of megaphone diplomacy.
“There is no excuse for going on strike,” he blusters, misrepresenting the issues that he knows have upset the teaching profession.
Gove insists that teachers’ pension arrangements are better than those of most workers in the public and private sectors.
What does that prove, other than that government and private employers have single-mindedly pursued a course of reducing pension entitlement for all workers to reduce production costs and boost profits?
The Education Secretary cannot deny the basic fact that riles teachers and hundreds of thousands of public-sector workers, namely that the government is forcing them to pay more for longer to receive less.
Since pensions are nothing more than deferred wages, the government is imposing a wage cut.
If the government had a reasonable case to justify such across-the-board dispossession, it could and should have explained it to public-sector unions and their membership.
But conservative coalition ministers know that there is no overwhelming economic or social case for robbing public employees.
It is a political choice that forms part of a concerted assault on working-class living standards to meet the cost of bailing out the private banking sector.
What Gove refers to as “pay reforms” is equally obnoxious, scorning national pay negotiations with two unions that represent 90 per cent of all teachers in England and Wales in favour of a divide-and-rule approach.
Most hypocritical of all, the Education Secretary accuses the unions of attacking the teaching profession when it is his high-handed, know-it-all, autocratic manner that has demoralised most people working in education.
His supercilious remark that he is willing to meet union leaders “any time, any place, anywhere to get them to see the error of their ways” encapsulates his bone-headed arrogance.
Gove’s undisciplined conduct in the wake of the government’s House of Commons defeat over Syria lays bare his inability to accept that he and his rich privately educated chums can sometimes be wrong.
They are certainly wrong over their disastrous treatment of state education, so it is right and proper that the teaching unions take him to task.
Trade unionists should reject Gove’s efforts to divide workers by portraying teachers as somehow pampered and selfish and should stand in solidarity alongside their NUT and NASUWT colleagues.
EDL isn’t welcome
East London has a long history of welcoming immigrants, from French Huguenots to east European Jews, Irish, Bangladeshis and many others besides.
It has also been plagued by malignant elements, usually from outside the area, from Tory anti-semitic MPs, Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts and various other racists.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets does not need an invasion by the boozed-up, violent Islamophobes that call themselves the English Defence League.
The EDL march should have been banned completely, as requested by Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman and the local council.
However, the police have allowed a truncated march and half-hour “static demonstration” in Aldgate, but the EDL claims it will rally in Altab Ali Park, named after the victim of a racist attack.
Anti-racists should prevent this provocation from taking place and express their mass revulsion at the EDL message of hate.