TEACHERS welcomed the prospect of fighting the Tory government with one voice yesterday after ATL members voted in favour of talks to form a single union with the NUT.
They followed in the footsteps of NUT members, who have already voted overwhelmingly in favour of talks at their conference over the Easter break.
Now both unions will set up special conferences to discuss how such a union would be formed before members are balloted on the proposals next summer.
Speaking after the decision on Tuesday night, ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said the government’s education white paper “provided a context” for fighting together.
She said: “The rationale for trying to create a new education union is very very strong.”
Dr Bousted argued that one strong union for all education professionals would create “a strong voice to fight more effectively for better education,” but admitted there was still a “great deal” to negotiate.
She said good education for children relies on highly motivated, highly qualified, well-paid and enthusiastic education professionals.
ATL deputy general secretary Peter Pendle said: “Now it is more important than ever that we are united in order to resist the policies of the government that undermine the work of education professionals.
“If we are going to successfully defend the profession it is vital to speak with one voice and act in unison.”
The backing of further talks by ATL members was also welcomed by NUT reps.
NUT professional unity committee chairman Gawain Little said: “There’s a reason our organisations are called unions.
“By bringing working people together, in all their diversity and speaking and acting in the union on the issues which matter to them most, we give them a voice.
“Every division in our movement weakens that voice.”
If talks are successful it could see a super-union made up of 500,000 members. ATL has around 170,000 members while the NUT has roughly 330,000.
Teaching union NASUWT, with more than 300,000 members, has expressed no desire to form one education union.