With most eyes focused on the probable takeover of the main civil service union PCS by Unite the news of the formation of a "new" union being formed amongst teachers broke today. The Times reports that:
A new trade union for classroom teachers is to be launched amongst growing discomfort at militancy and confrontation among the big education bodies.
It will be aimed at teachers in primary and secondary schools who have become dismayed at plans by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to escalate its strikes. The union, the first new such body for teachers for almost, hopes to attract those in senior posts, such as heads of departments or year groups.....
The organisation will be set up as a sister organisation to the to the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) which represents about 28,000 heads predominately in primary schools. The creation of a direct rival will strain relations between unions and the NAHT which is far more moderate and only called one strike in its history.
The NAHT website announces:
NAHT has confirmed that it will be announcing the launch of an affiliate union, known as NAHT Edge, at annual conference in May 2014. This association will be aimed at middle leaders in schools, offering a blend of traditional trade union protection and high quality leadership development, underwritten by NAHT's experienced staff and officers.
Members of NAHT see it as a duty to mentor and support the next generation of leaders in a potentially difficult education climate. Many potential members are already part of NAHT, or have been eligible in the past, but the creation of a new organisation enables us to focus more on the needs of aspiring leaders rather than those more established in their careers.
To suit the needs of the next generation, NAHT Edge will use online media to create a direct democracy, with all active members creating policy and expressing their voice. The connection with NAHT will enable us to strengthen the bonds between middle and senior leaders and build a strong alliance for a better education system.
Membership will be live from September 2014 and the association hopes for up to 5,000 members in the first few years. Members of NAHT Edge will be members of NAHT and thus entitled to full trade union recognition and representation. However, the emphasis will also be on career and professional development. Louis Coiffait has been appointed chief executive of NAHT Edge and an advisory council will be established from among the early members.
Its only been a few months since the PCS union faced its' own split when members of the Serious Organised Crime Agency tried to negotiate a deal for compensation when they lost their right to strike following their subsuming into the police force. The PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka went berserk and ended up suspending and eventually driving out the majority of members who formed the National Crime Officers Association. (See here and here)
Their President, Mark Sutton reported in February:
The NCOA provide employees of the NCA a union which understands the uniqueness of their role within the Agency and is committed to focusing all of its resources on the issues that affect our members within the organisation.
We now have 45 NCOA accredited representatives in workplaces across the organisation who are actively involved in representing members in grievance, discipline and employment related matters and we encourage you to identify your nearest representative.
Meanwhile as PCS collapses under the weight of Trotskyism some idiots, well one Steve Ryan asks:
That would be the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), an anarchist union, itself recently split by former egotistical PCS member Chris Ford who promptly set his own union the IWGB with just one branch but with himself as head honcho.
More likely PCS members who do not want to go into Unite, (which with the influx of trots from PCS who will immediately engage in "faction fighting" with their already present Socialist Party and SWP allies to undermine Unites links with the Labour Party) may consider the remaining option of Prospect.
Prospect is a far more level headed and mainstream union than PCS or even Unite which constantly veers to the far left under its own Marxist leadership.
If the merger does not go ahead there certainly needs to be a major political re-alignment to remove the far left wreckers who have bought PCS to its knees both politically and financially.
The future of civil service trade unionism remains in abeyance, it requires the PCS membership and more reasonable reps to take up the challenge.
All options need to be considered, remaining the same is not an option.