My first time at TUC Congress was an opportunity to meet with trade unionists from across the country. Congress opened on Sunday with debates on the impact of Brexit and an emergency motion calling for zero tolerance for sexual harassment. NUT delegate from the South West Region, Karla Wheeler, described the impact of sexism on pupils and on our own members.
A full day of debates on Monday covered justice, postal services, fire and rescue services, housing, welfare and industrial policy. London NUT delegate Gerald Clarke made a contribution to the debate on affordable housing, highlighting the problems faced by teachers in renting or trying to buy in London. Mandy Hudson, of the NEC, but speaking on behalf of the TUC Disabled Workers' Conference, moved the motion on work capability assessments and links to suicide.
Congress can appear somewhat stage managed and there was very little dissent from the general council position until a motion on climate change. Amongst others things, the motion called for a halt to airport expansion and a rapid transition from fossil fuels. The TUC General Council position was to oppose the motion, but, in the NUT pre-meeting on Sunday, Jess Edwards (NEC) and Dave Harvey (NEC) and I had argued that we should support it and this was the position adopted by the NUT. In the debate the motion was opposed by UNITE and GMB who argued for members' jobs. Speakers from UNISON, FBU and PSC, supporting the motion, pointed out that there's wouldn't be any jobs on a dead planet. The motion was lost. Interestingly, the NASUWT voted against the motion, supporting the general council's position.
Here's a petition at change.org we'd encourage people to sign:
NUT General Secretary Kevin Courtney wrote to the two candidates for the Labour leadership election, Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith, with a series of questions on behalf of the NUT. Here are their responses:
Welcome back after what we hope has been a restful summer. It is worth ensuring now that certain things are in place for the start of the academic year. Every teacher should have the following documents from their school:
Are you remaining as rep this academic year? If not, please ensure that a new rep is elected so that we can continue to send local information to a person in school.
If you are the school rep, please recruit new members in your school. These could be NQTs, teachers new to the school or those training on the job, ie. SCITT, Teach First. Teachers can join online or by ringing 0207 380 6369.
If you have NUT members who retired at the end of last academic year, please let me know so that I can adjust their membership. If they remain on as retired members, they will still receive The Teacher magazine and Countdown benefits. The annual fee is very small, just over ten pounds a year at the moment.
Finally, thank you for all the help and support that you give. Being NUT rep is not always easy, but it is a vital part of how the union operates. The grassroots membership and school reps are the life blood of the union.
In June, Glebelands Primary School was given a School of Sanctuary Award, the first school in Leicestershire to receive it. Ruth Sinhal writes about Glebelands Primary School's Refugee Week on the Refugee Week website.