Congress recognises that millions of people across the UK are struggling to survive a cost-of-living crisis. Congress is clear that this crisis exists because living costs are rising faster than pay, caused and exacerbated by global private profiteering, government decisions and mismanagement of the economy.
Ministers want workers to pay for the crisis, while continuing to provide their friends in business with profitable contracts, tax breaks and favours.
Congress notes, with frustration and anger, that the pay awards for full-time firefighters’ pay, teachers and support staff, like many other public sector workers, will, in effect, be a pay cut again this year – just as it has been for the last 10 years.
Congress condemns the two per cent pay offer made by fire employers to firefighters in June this year, the largest real terms pay cut on firefighters in living memory.
Congress applauds all staff in education for the work undertaken in schools and online throughout the pandemic and condemns the government’s recent evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body.
Congress believes that all workers deserve (Retail Prices Index) pay rises that maintain their standards of living. Furthermore, Congress supports pension and social security inflationary rises to ensure that living standards are maintained throughout society.
Congress asserts that the discourse prior to these decisions has been unfairly weighted by the right-wing, neoliberal bias of influential media outlets.
Congress condemns the Westminster government’s longstanding policy of tight constraints on public sector pay in the UK and opposes the austerity policies of successive Westminster governments and devolved administrations, resulting in perpetual cuts to public services.
Schools are now at breaking point with recruitment difficulties, with many schools simply unable to staff classes properly nor provide adequate support for pupils, particularly those with special educational needs.
Many music education hubs (Department for Education-funded providers of instrumental lessons in schools) have permanent vacancies for instrumental and vocal teachers (known as visiting music teachers or VMTs), who are increasingly migrating to the private sector.
Pay and conditions for VMTs are unregulated and vary enormously.
There is no standard framework for engaging them and most are not covered by schoolteachers’ pay and conditions. This makes VMTs a poor relation among teachers, mainly paid by the hour and only for direct contact time with pupils. Breaks and preparation are usually unpaid, as is travel between schools which is a regular feature of the working day.
Some VMTs are forced on to dubious self-employed agreements, while other are engaged on precarious zero-hour contracts. Rates of pay have barely increased over the last decade.
Congress instructs the General Council to campaign vigorously, in coordination with affiliates, to ensure that public sector pay rises match inflation, and to support and leverage affiliates’ campaigning on pay, including:
i. a united campaign of public sector trade unions to challenge austerity, pay cuts and the increased cost of living
ii. making the case for investment in public services necessary to protect resilience and improve the pay of public sector workers and to avert a deeper recruitment and retention crisis
iii. produce, on a regular basis, detailed briefings and other materials that explore the issues behind the major political/economic choices and decisions made in the UK, and expand political education programmes for workers to understand how governments affect workers’ lives and the political and economic choices of governments
iv. seek to properly reward educational staff and support the Musicians’ Union in asking for UK governments to develop a pay and conditions framework for VMTs to ensure they are treated equitably and recognised properly.
Congress mandates the General Council to take the necessary steps, in conjunction with affiliated unions and involving all political, industrial and legal means, to secure a decent pay rise for all workers.
Mover: Educational Institute of Scotland
Seconder: National Association of Head Teachers
Supporters: Fire Brigades Union; Musicians’ Union