Secondary teachers threaten to walkout

TEACHERS at three Camden secondary schools are threatening a walkout over a pay dispute with governors.

Ben McPartland

TEACHERS at three Camden secondary schools are threatening a walkout over a pay dispute with governors.

Members of the National Union of Teachers at Hampstead, Acland Burghley and Maria Fidelis secondaries have voted to go on strike if a row over cash for recruits cannot be resolved.

Over the past two years governors at the three schools have scrapped their automatic recruitment and retention payments, worth around £2,000 a year to new teachers.

NUT members are now threatening industrial action in a bid to get the money reinstated.

Camden branch secretary Andrew Baisley said: "All three ballots showed a real strength of feeling within the schools. The staff want to fight to defend their retention and recruitment payments because they know what a difference they make to teaching in Camden.

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"These payments have enabled Camden schools to remain stable and hold on to their longstanding staff. We are still hoping we can come to an agreement."

Last year staff at Parliament Hill secondary on Highgate Road walked out of the school on three separate occasions over a similar dispute with their board of governors.

A governor at one of the three schools, who asked to remain anonymous, this week slammed her own board.

She said: "This was just 'macho-management' in my view. This terrible decision was made just to prove a point to the NUT.

"It wasn't a great deal of money and it impacted badly on staff morale. It is not a vast amount of money in terms of the overall school budget."

Instead of the automatic payments to new recruits, some of the schools have opted to pay them on a more discretionary basis or follow a new system of bonuses which relate more to performance or responsibilities.

Hampstead school governors took the decision to axe the automatic payments to recruits in back July 2006.

Chairman of the board Geoff Berridge says he was surprised by the NUT's decision to call a ballot at the Westbere Road secondary.

He said: "We have listened to the NUT and taken them seriously. We were preparing a response for them, but suddenly they decided to have a ballot for action at the same time, which we were not aware of.

"We were due to have discussions rather than being pushed along by a ballot, but that is up to the unions, I suppose.

"Only a small number of people have voted in favour of a strike and that is an indication that we should be talking to each of them rather than taking action."