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Teaching union launches a political campaign for a raft of revolutionary measures including a 35 hour working week

NASUWT launched a political campaign for a raft of radical measures including a 35-hour working week but stopped short of calling for strikes for pay at its annual conference at Harrogate this weekend.

General secretary Dr Patrick Roach urged Labour to show commitment to teaching as he outlined his “starter for 10” for Sir Keir Starmer in his union’s “new deal for teachers.”

But he warned that national strikes before a general election would be “gesture politics” after an indicative vote showed the majority of NASUWT’s state school members in England did not support a national ballot for strike action.

In his address to delegates on Saturday, he said: “Change can only come from a new government that is committed to delivering a new deal for teachers because, in the last 14 years, this government has shown not one shred of care or concern for the teaching profession.

“This government has run out of time to fix the problems of 14 years of neglect and decline.”

Delegates passed a motion calling on the NASUWT executive to use political and educational resources “to mobilise members” to secure a government committed to delivering the union agenda.

Its demands include a programme for a real-terms pay restoration for teachers and a national framework of statutory contractual conditions of service for all teachers and head teachers, including a maximum 35-hour working time limit.

Dr Roach said the union plans to “engage with parents” about their concerns as part of its political campaigning ahead of the general election, admitting that he believed it could be easier for the union to get parents onside if industrial action is off the cards.

“Our members have weighed that up, and their priority right now is not about causing more disruption to lives that are already in tumult, but actually saying: we need a government that’s on the side of teachers and on the side of children and young people,” he said.

On the results of the consultative ballot, he said: “Our members’ assessment is: actually, what is needed right now is political change.”

And on Labour, he said: “I don’t have control over their manifesto priorities, but I trust that it will be part of the agenda they set out to teachers and to the education workforce.

“I would like to see that commitment being expressed clearly and unequivocally.”

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