Industrial action is proposed for June 30th
What’s it all about and who might be involved? The government are presently reviewing major changes to the present teacher pension scheme which if implemented, will have a dramatic effect on those already in the profession when they finally retire and in addition such actions may have a damaging influence on potential teaching recruits for the future.
The basic understanding has been, that teachers have continued to accept lower salaries throughout their working life in return for a more generous pension. All that is now under threat. Even the ATL which has not taken any industrial action of this nature before is up in arms. As many of our members are ATL members some will be re-evaluating their position over the next few months.
However, some members might be looking at this whole situation very differently, if they have had to cope with the following circumstances. A pay cap for the last three years. As a result of down grading by some centres and local authorities members, have lost between three and four thousand pounds, off their already low salaries. The national average salary is still between £12.000 and £15,000. Members who carry so much of the burden for exam delivery, but are still not recognised for those responsibilities, are then expected, no questions asked; to help manage the second biggest budget in their centres, after salaries. This is grossly unfair!
So some members may not feel particularly interested or supportive of their teaching colleagues. In a sense ‘their fight is not our fight’, might be the call but maybe now is the time to demonstrate that our exam community is part of a broader education community and that the whole teaching profession needs to recognise the needs and concerns of the exam office community and start to develop a more open and inclusive environment where every role is worth fighting for, and not just teachers. As support staff make up over 44% of the workforce in schools and colleges now might be a very good time to state our claim for appropriate remuneration for the valued work done.
One might jump to conclusion from that statement that the EOA and its membership should advocate some form of strike action. That prospect seems to be a million miles away from most member's minds. The interesting point made by so many exams office staff is that their major gripe is often not about money at all, (while of course that would always be most welcome) but more about being respected; being valued; recognised and acknowledged for their contribution from the community they support and cannot function without their cooperation, namely teachers. So we will all have to wait and see what will transpire on the 30th June.
Some members may well be carrying on with exams or assessments on the 30th so keep the EOA posted on how you have dealt with the consequences of industrial action in your centre. And lets not forget that more industrial action is being planned for the new academic year so everyone will have to factor any disruptions into their future exam planning.